Posts Tagged ‘financial sector

26
Mar
09

The Problem With Ideology

Let me set the stage. During the last eight years of governance, the Republicans supported their party leader and the Democrats checked their spines at the Capitol doors whilst Bush and Cheney did their patent best to lead this country off a cliff. Almost all the Republicans I know refuse to defend Bush’s record and repeat over and over that they had no idea Bush would be such a wretched president. Disappointment knew no boundaries.

So you would think, after the last 8 years, there would at least be some shift in the Republican message – especially after the trouncing the majority of American voters gave them in the last election. But no, they are hanging on to their failed ideas and policy as though the last eight years were just a dream.

Why would they be so clueless? Why would they be so clinically in denial regarding not only the failure of their policies, but the fact that the majority of Americans wish to change course away from Right-wing lunacy? The answer: ideology, or the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc.

The Republicans are a party of ideologues. Right-wing commentators are ideologues. Religious leaders are ideologues. Uneducated, anti-intellectuals are ideologues.

The problem with an ideologue is that they tend to focus on the theories inherent in their adopted ideology without regard given to potential or realized negative repercussions of said ideology. No matter what may occur because of the practice of that ideology, negative results are blamed on external factors and positive consequences are credited to the ideology. The ideology is never wrong.

Obviously, progress of humanity is determined by the species’ ability to learn and adapt. Actions tend to have positive or negative consequences and learning helps one to avoid negative consequences. Evidence and data are drawn upon in the decision-making process and thus, improve decisions and development.

Not with ideologues. Evidence and information are disregarded in strict adherence to the core, fundamental theory presented in the ideology. Reality has no weight, no bearing in the presence of ideology.

Here are some examples:

  • The gross misconduct of the financial sector was enabled by the freeing of the market by ideologue politicians. Despite the globalized economy, despite the proven nature of many men to serve his greed when times are ripe, despite every indicator of human behavior, free marketeers still believe that capitalism in its purest form (which is an impossibility) is the answer to all economic questions.
  • Abstinence-only education has been proven to increase teen pregnancy and abortion. Yet, pro-lifers insist that sex education, and the information such education  proffers, should be excluded from school curricula. Sex education = less abortions. Abstinence only = more abortions. Yet, their ideology prevents them from adopting the wiser of the two educational options.
  • U.S. guns laws are so lax, that 90 percent of the guns used in Mexico’s drug war, which is spilling across the southern U.S. borders, come from America. The selling of arms at gun shows is so unrestricted that even a drug cartel member could easily attend one of these conventions and purchase arms to take south. Yet, should one member of the national government even suggest limiting access to assault weapons – just assault weapons – the gun lobby goes ape shit. Obviously, the more the government limits access to arms, the fewer arms will be in the hands of criminals. But gun lobbyists are ideologues. Why the feel the need to allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to own an AK-47 is beyond me and the data that this policy endangers far more people than it protects is widespread. But ideology is strong and blinds people to the obvious effects of their decisions.
  • The legalization of marijuana would weaken drug cartels, increase the use of intensely beneficial hemp plant, help multitudes of medical patients, bolster the economy in certain geographic areas, increase efficacy of police forces and decrease prison populations. Marijuana overdoses, unlike those of alcohol, are unheard of. And the criminalization of marijuana has more to do with this country’s cotton lobby history that protecting its citizens. Yet an antiquated ideology regarding the substance prevents the majority of the population from recognizing the benefits of its legalization.

Ideology hampers progress. It hampers positive change and forms a mental prison around those comforted by stale and erroneous memories. It is a crutch for the weak-minded and those afraid to recognize reality and make painful, unfair decisions that might improve circumstances and take us beyond that which holds us back.

Remember, if you were taught an ideology vehemently by your elders from the time you were an infant, and believe it with the entirety of your heart as an adult, without question  – it is probably wrong. And handicapping. And your insistence on holding on to this crutch, this blindfold, hurts all of us. Consider evidence, information, data, reality to the contrary.

Ideology thrives on the limiting of information and lack of education. Take North Korea, the Taliban, the FLDS, Jonestown, Bloods and Krypts, Branch Dividian, white supremacists, child-molesting priests. Strict adherence to ideology is and was the lifeblood of these cults, religions, predators.

That’s why Democracy is such a good system of government. By shining the light of information into dark corners and allowing people to think for themselves, educate themselves and separate themselves from the bounds of ideology, better discussions and debates are had and better decisions are made.

Good decisions are good simply because their results are constructive, not because they help prop up some useless ideology.

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05
Feb
09

Politicians: Corporatocracy Whores

It seems most politicians are members of three clubs: former big biz, lawyers, and academics. Of course, there are exceptions. Ron Paul, Bill Frist, Howard Dean, and Tom Coburn were also doctors. California offers up actors from time to time, and Jesus give us his peeps:  Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mike Huckabee. Sarah Palin crawled out from under a rock in White Trashville, as will have Joe The Plumber when he undoubtedly attempts to run for some public office.

Maybe we need to take a closer look at where our politicians come from and what type of background offers the most successful selections. By successful, I don’t mean longest-serving or highest-ranking. I mean most effective, the politicians that benefited the American people the most.

In pondering this topic, the most pessimistic observation regarding the state of our government is that there is an undeniable rotating door between government and big business. As I’ve said, this is not a democracy, but a corporatocracy. Lobbyists and politicians are one and the same and this is true of both Republicans and Democrats.

Sure, this is a well-known reality. So, what could have triggered my need to blog on the topic today? Well…

On Morning Joe this a.m. Joe Scarborough, in his usual pithy tone of egotistical disgust and certitude, derided Obama who, just like Bernanke, Joe said, is a professor. They’re just professors. And this is true. But maybe, just maybe, it’s not a bad thing.

Yesterday, Robert Scheer pointed out in his Huffpo blog entry, Runaway Wallstreet, that Geithner’s choice for top aide is Mark Peterson, Goldman Sachs VP and lobbyist. “It was confirmation that Goldman Sachs runs the Treasury Department–no matter which party is in power.” He also sites The NYTimes’ “The Guys From ‘Government Sachs'”, which details Goldman alumni in the government – Paulson, of course, but also Joshua B. Bolten, Neel T. Kashkari, Robert Rubin, World Bank Pres. Robert Zoellick, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a BUNCH, bunch more.

Goldman Sachs is one of the many Wall Street, financial institutions with a revolving door between itself and the Treasury Dept., the Fed, the SEC and more. What about Rahm Emanuel and Michael Bloomberg? And, most recently John McCain was greatly considering naming shamed former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain – you know the one who spent $1.2 million redecorating his office – for his Treasury Secretary. How can our government be expected to enact the best policy when they are all big biz wankers who have no priority over increasing wealth among their ranks?

The financial industry isn’t the only extreme conflict of interest in the government. Remember Dick Cheney? Yes, that ex-Halliburton CEO called in major energy execs to help write the government’s energy policy. No wonder Bush thought Kyoto was a bad idea. No wonder Bush wouldn’t let California set high fuel emissions standards. No wonder Detroit refused to acknowledge the growing demand for greener autos. No wonder Halliburton, its subsidiaries, and other companies close to Bush & Cheney received no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions while our underfunded military continued to fight wars on two fronts. Nothing new – former head of Enron Ken Lay would trip over himself licking the heals of Bush I, leaving little surprise that the company was able to get away with manipulating the California energy market before its bubble collapsed.

Where do you think Tom Daschle went after his senate career? Yeah, a lobbying firm with clients in the health care sector. He would have made a great health care secretary. No conflict there. And you know how recruited him? Bob Dole. Even Bill Frist went to work for a health care investment firm after leaving the senate.

And there’s always a new crop of big biz lackeys knocking at the door all the time: Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, and  Meg Whitman are biding their time, waiting to make their big break on the national circuit. But it’s not just the politicians – it’s their spouses, their children, congressional aides, government inspectors for the FDA, SEC, CDC and more – everyone around these politicians are in bed with lobbying firms and corporations. Lower level government employees, eying big dollar jobs in the private sector, push their bosses toward pro-biz legislation and deregulation. The mainstream media, dependent on sponsor dollar, rarely publicize the siamese twins our government and big business have become.

And the American people suffer for it. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry mandated the vaccination of teenage girls with Gardasil – interesting because of his ties to Gardasil’s maker, Merck. The governor thinks he can issue executive orders regarding the health of our children, ordering them to take a new drug with multiple questions regarding its side effects. The man should be jailed. He also tried to rush the building of coal plants before new “clean coal” (cough, cough lie) regulations were put in place. Yeah, we got a winner down here in Texas. Hey Perry – this isn’t a fucking autocracy! Asshole.

Now, sure most of the Democratic politicians are lawyers  – funny how they want to study law before becoming professional legislators. And many other government participants are academics. The main attack line against these people – and we heard it quite a bit this last election – is that they never ran anything. Somehow the recent big biz execs are winning elections to become today’s politicians on platforms that they were in charge in the business sector. And the last eight years have been the most pro-biz in recent history. Do you see what I’m getting at?

Maybe before we jump to criticize these professors and lawyers, we should take a look at how well the big biz peeps fared. Last I looked, our civil liberties were greatly reduced, we spent far more on a war sold with lies than we did on education the children of our country, a credit bubble formed and popped, health care costs became astronomical, unaffordable and the leading cause of bankruptcy, speculation drove oil & gas prices sky high and unemployment reached record levels.

At least the top 400 richest people doubled their wealth while Bush was president. The poverty sector grew by leaps and bounds, but who cares about those people? We have a corporatocracy on our hands and until we establish policy on data, information, evidence and reality and leave ideology and theory in the books where they belong, we will continue to suffocate the middle class. And without a healthy middle class, a healthy American economy cannot exist. The idea of a free market has become a joke, a myth. There’s nothing free about our market. It’s very, very expensive. And it’s not the rich who are paying for it.




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