Saturday, December 10, 2011

Earth to Occupiers: Trust Buster Needed to Reform, not Toss Capitalism

Geoffrey G. Fisher
December 10, 2011

As insufferable and self-possessed as the Occupiers of Wall Street are, and they are, they have hit a national nerve.  Capitalism does need to be checked every now and then.  Corporate greed is now a danger to our national and collective-interest. 

109 years ago, under nearly identical circumstances, President Theodore Roosevelt filed a federal law suit against the Northern Securities Corporation for monopolizing the railroad industry.  The Supreme Court dissolved this monopoly in 1904 which proved to be a victory for laissez-faire capitalism and free trade and most importantly a victory for the American people.  Roosevelt did this again with the titans of the American coal industry, and in 1902 after an order to mobilize the army to commandeer the coal mines, the coal-mine owners finally agreed to arbitration.  Roosevelt the rough-rider and jingoistic imperialist, was now the friend to labor and the American Trust Buster – bully! 

Although the occupiers of Wall Street have touched a quintessential American nerve vis-à-vis fair play, they want to toss capitalism and replace it with European socialism or worse.  So, to these college-educated misfits, thank you for the wake-up call but keep your radical hippie agenda to yourselves.  Just look at the damage Spain and Greece have done to the European Union.  Just today, it was reported Bloomberg News that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou's Pasok party is struggling to stay afloat with massive austerity measures being implemented in order to gain the financial support of the EU – this has not stopped many unions from working off the job as Greece crumbles before the eyes of the world.  This is what happens when 17 percent of the nation’s labor force is public employees.

Lasses-faire capitalism is the best economic system the world has ever known – it just isn’t perfect, and it needs to be check every now and then, like now.

Just like Teddy brook up the trusts of 100 years ago, and Ronald Reagan’s justice department busted the American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1984 into the Regional Bell Operating Companies, also known as the Baby Bells, today we need bipartisan support to bust the Wall Street investment banks into institutions of a more manageable size – banks that serve the people and not simply nefarious stock holders.

Let’s start with the following five American banking houses:
  1. Bank of America
  2. Barclay's Capital
  3. Citigroup
  4. Goldman Sachs
  5. JPMorgan Chase

Never again should a bank be too big to fail.  In capitalism, the freedom to succeed goes hand in hand with the freedom to fail.  Capitalism means the economy needs to be pruned by the invisible hand of Adam Smith. 

Now is the Time for President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Reid to join together to launch a trust busting party - where corporations, and large unions (the AFL-CIO and the NEA come to mind) are brought back into line with the interests of the American people.  This would be a feat supported by the political left and right – bipartisanism doesn’t have to be a pipe dream.  Perhaps this effort on behalf of the American people as a whole can ignite more bipartisanship on the economy.  Gentleman, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." 

To the Occupiers, thank you for the wake-up call – now please go home and take a shower.  We all know your encampment will last only until the big apple becomes a big ice-cube.  You can return to New York’s Madison Square Garden on December 28, 2011 for the next Phish concert as victors.  (591 words)

Geoffrey G. Fisher is a State-Certified History and Government Teacher. 
He currently works in Southwest Florida as a Guest Teacher.  He served for six years as an elected official in Connecticut and holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

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