Meet the New Boss, the Same as the Old Boss

Any classic rock fan will recognize the above line as having been derived from the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” who assumedly re-phrased it from popular wisdom. Unfortunately, their generation got fooled again as did my generation and the next generation… up till perhaps the most recent generation. Many a pundit or just older person who has sympathy for the Occupation Wall Street movement have been impatient for them to develop a literal, hierarchal organization and have a direct political impact like the so-called Tea Party did/does (see my post from last week about what I think about the Tea Party).

I on the other hand am just happy that the OWS is just changing the conversation away from the Conservative dominated media.

(There I say it plainly: the mainstream media which includes NPR and PBS is NOT liberal; it’s centrist to very conservative. Period. I’ll probably blog about this fact at some point too.)

Very recently a respected organ of that mainstream media, THE WASHINGTON POST, published an extremely revealing article. It backs up something I’ve been saying from the beginning. President Obama is a pro-business president and a very good friend of Wall Street, just like George W. Bush was a pro-business president and a very good friend of Wall Street. (W. was also a particularly good buddy of the oil/coal industry and O. is just a friend to these, so as just one example, I don’t mean to make blanket associations and equivalents between them.)

But facts are facts and they’re well documented in this article – Wall Street’s profits are better than ever:

One could say that Obama fulfilled Bush’s plan (remember the Bush admin. set up the no-strings attached TARP plan) just as well as Obama also fulfilled Bush’s withdrawal plan for Iraq (i.e. we got out now sooner, or later, than the agreement previously negotiated during the Bush administration).

So, one shouldn’t make the jump that Obama is doing something different, more favorable to Wall Street… actually ever so slightly to the contrary since the Dem’s did pass modest Wall Street/banking reform (which the Republicans universally opposed).

Some one I know brought to my attention President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1936 rousing speech where he said “I welcome their hatred” regarding Wall Street It’s a great speech from FDR, and yes an enormous contrast from Obama and of course, Bush too, or any other potential Republican presidential candidate.

Despite any rhetoric from either Democratic or Republican or their associated allies, in practice, they’re all profoundly intertwined. In contrast, FDR actually backed up his rhetoric.

Unfortunately, what the FDR parallel probably also shows is that not much will change in the United States, unless we hit rock bottom and suddenly those in power become innately afraid of social chaos.

So many of the great changes of the 1930’s were essentially pre-emptive. The banking regulations, Social Security and other New Deal long term and shorter term programs like the WPA were as much about saving capitalism from itself as they were about relieving the suffering of the citizenry. Elizabeth Warren said this very nicely in a recent speech, but I’ll take it further: rich people benefit more, proportionally, from civilization and an orderly society than poor people. Innately this is true, and that’s why morally it is justified that they are taxed at a higher rate.

Additionally, in the private sector, GM introduced health insurance as a union benefit for reasons of labor peace. That was the beginnings of our current ad hoc health care “system”.

Even the not overtly economically connected, Fairness Doctrine (vastly underrated how Reagan’s ending of it has profoundly affected our current political culture and economic condition) was adopted as a way to keep Congress from seriously regulating the broadcast industry, as back then, many in Congress were so silly that they seriously considered the airwaves to be public property.

The Fairness Doctrine worked. News divisions at the networks did not have to justify their bottom lines; documentaries were also regular fixture on the big 3 networks and as result viewers got facts and not just opinion and salacious puff pieces. But the Fairness Doctrine wasn’t actual law so it was rather easy for Reagan to just junk it.

So instead, in our current political system, we get to have an elaborate theatre of the Democrats and Republicans sounding very different, while their actions keep overlapping. The basic problem is that the Supreme Court has long equated money with speech and now that corporations are “people”, that person or company with the most money has the loudest voice.

We Americans have a true dilemma of keeping the continued disaster of stasis, versus chaos. But one can’t hope for the suffering of another great depression. Chaos is never anything to wish for because you don’t know who will emerge from the muck. After all, there’s no guarantee another FDR is waiting in the wings as opposed to some neo-fascist.

Which once again, is why I think Occupation Wall Street offers true hope – not for any immediate political change but as hopefully the beginning of a cultural change. Just shifting our culture slightly away from the false smiling visage of Ronald Reagan, who truly was the emblem of greed is good (not the mythical Gordon Gecko), is something to hope for.

If we become more morally in favor of an economic system where all have a fair chance to succeed (through intelligent, strong regulations and intelligent, fair re-distribution of wealth through a graduated tax system… not just the income tax, but the entire tax system), and moreover that greed may not always be bad, but cooperation is always good.