Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blame the Greedy CEO's?

I am taking the the unpopular position that the CEO's in both the financial and auto industry are not responsible for the current economic crisis. It is quite clear that Republican and Democratic politicians agree on one basic theory, that the greed and mismanagement of corporate leaders have caused the problem. Their rare unity is in itself an indicator that something is amiss. They know that the American people are angry and who better to blame than those who have benefited from this crisis in an obvious and excessive fashion. Corporate leaders are an easy target.

The Congressman and women who mock and taunt corporate CEO's during the bailout hearings need only look in the mirror for the culprits. In 1980 Ronald Reagan was swept into office pushing his pro-corporate agenda of deregulation and both sides of the aisle were thrilled to accept his deeply flawed economic theory. The deep recession of the 1970's had created public anger at the government and politicians were able to channel this anger towards an amorphous government entity rather than at the individual members of who made up the entity, themselves. Thus, deregulation worked to create the facade that both Congress and the President were fixing the Country's economic woes by ridding corporate America of the bothersome interference of a bloated inept government while distancing themselves from this government.

The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions act of 1982 deregulated the savings and loans institutions and the "S and L crisis" was not long to follow. This major deregulation bill was sponsored by Democrat Ferdinand St. Germain and Republican Jake Garn, it was co-sponsored by Democrats Charles Schumer and Steny Hoyer. This was, or rather should have been, the canary in the coalmine predicting the ultimate results of deregulation. Allow the financial institutions to take unreasonable risks, and they will destroy themselves.

Both the allegedly liberal Brookings Institute and the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute strongly advocated deregulation despite the opposition of many left leaning economists and the anti-globalization movement. Not surprisingly, both sides of the aisle are now eager to blame greedy corrupt CEO's and overlook the effects of their legislative actions. If not for deregulation none of this could have possibly taken place. Corporations have always operated within the confines of U.S. policies and regulations and if they are allowed to take suicidal risks they surely shall. The role of government is to monitor and adjust the corporate environment to protect the American consumer and worker. Deregulation was extremely effective in its intent, however the law of unintended consequences has created an economic disaster of epic proportions.

Democrats, Republicans, and mainstream media pundits are unified in the assertion that Corporate CEO's are the cause of the impending economic collapse of the United States, and possibly the International finance system. Those who created and imposed deregulation are eager to find a scapegoat.

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