Posts tagged ‘clinton’

September 15, 2010

Government regulation of the market economy arose during the New Deal out of a desire to save capitalism rather than destroy it.

by Ben Hoffman

Since the collapse happened on the watch of President George W. Bush at the end of two full terms in office, many in the Democratic Party were only too eager to blame his administration. Yet while Bush did nothing to remedy the problem, and his response was to simply reward the culprits, the roots of this disaster go back much further, to the free-market propaganda of the Reagan years and, most damagingly, to the bipartisan deregulation of the banking industry undertaken with the full support of “liberal” President Clinton. Yes, Clinton. And if this debacle needs a name, it should most properly be called “the Clinton bubble,” as difficult as it may be to accept for those of us who voted for him.


Clinton betrayed the wisdom of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms that capitalism needed to be saved from its own excess in order to survive, that the free market would remain free only if it was properly regulated in the public interest. The great and terrible irony of capitalism is that if left unfettered, it inexorably engineers its own demise, through either revolution or economic collapse. The guardians of capitalism’s survival are thus not the self-proclaimed free-marketers, who, in defiance of the pragmatic Adam Smith himself, want to chop away at all government restraints on corporate actions, but rather liberals, at least those in the mode of FDR, who seek to harness its awesome power while keeping its workings palatable to a civilized and progressive society.

Government regulation of the market economy arose during the New Deal out of a desire to save capitalism rather than destroy it. Whether it was child labor in dark coal mines, the exploitation of racially segregated human beings to pick cotton, or the unfathomable devastation of the Great Depression, the brutal creativity of the pure profit motive has always posed a stark challenge to our belief that we are moral creatures. The modern bureaucratic governments of the developed world were built, unconsciously, as a bulwark, something big enough to occasionally stand up to the power of uncontrolled market forces, much as a referee must show the yellow card to a young headstrong athlete.

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January 8, 2010

We’re In The Age Of No Consequences For Acting Badly

by Ben Hoffman

Yesterday, Obama claimed “the buck stops here” when intelligence agencies failed to prevent the latest terrorist attack that could have cost the lives of hundreds of people. There were plenty of obvious warnings, yet chances are, no one will suffer any consequences or lose their jobs. The bombers’s own father warned that his son was a serious danger, yet he wasn’t entered into the no fly list. The CIA realized there was a danger after the plane took off, but was going to wait until the plane landed before they took action. Had the bomber not been so incompetent, that would have been too late.

We’ve seen the lack of any consequences with the banking industry. Banks deemed “too big to fail” engaged in reckless behavior, which in effect was high stakes gambling, but it turned out, they were gambling with the house’s money! No problem. Here’s a few hundred billion to take care of your losses. And give yourselves a bonus while you’re at it.

Last week, there was the Blackwater murder case where the contractors gunned down innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilians in cold blood, but the case was thrown out of court. Iraqis understandably were outraged, but it looks like there will be no consequences. Not exactly the way to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

With the Abu Ghraib scandal, only a few peons were punished. With the Bush administration, the buck stopped with the people who were just following orders. It never reached those who were in command, like Rumsfeld or Cheney.

And of course, there was the issue of the Bush administration lying us into a war. Nearly 4,000 American troops died, thousands of others were wounded, at a cost of a trillion dollars, not to mention all the Iraqi civilians who were killed. Rather than prosecute anyone, the Obama administration wants to look forward. Dick Cheney doesn’t realize what a gift he was given. He should be in prison, yet all he’s doing is running his mouth calling Obama “weak on terror.” No, the Bush administration was weak on terror. They allowed us to be attacked and then lost the war against al Qaeda by bankrupting our country and destroying our economy. That was bin Laden’s goal.

There were also the cases of Karl Rove and Harriet Meyers defying congressional subpoenas and nothing ever happened with that.

And then there was the Clinton administration… Oh, wait… Clinton was impeached for getting a blow job. Hmmmm… I guess there are just no consequences for Republicans acting badly. If only Clinton knew back then that you could just ignore Congressional subpoenas.