Thursday, December 17, 2009

OPINION: Still Waiting On U.S. Leaders To Take On Banks

Can We Talk?
By Jack Fairweather

This column often refers to the people of various Latin American countries. Countries our captive mainstream media calls “left leaning.” To varying degrees, the leaders of Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Chili and Brazil are, politically, left of center.
They were elected by respectable majorities by people who had finally awakened to the reality of their situation, they finally realized that the gaping social and economic inequalities that autocratic, American supported rule, would not go away unless they, through activism and organizing, put an end to such oppression. And they did so.
In Venezuela and Bolivia, this resulted in governments under Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales that are unashamedly anti-American. Well, to alarmists who shout that these leaders will push other Latin American countries further into the dreaded “socialist” camp, I would say, remember, you reap what you sow and the U.S. did, and still does, sow seeds of social and economic oppression throughout Latin America in it’s support of IMF/World Bank style economics.
In other Latin American countries, left leaning leaders have heard the people and include social and economic reforms “for the people” in their agendas. And their words are not just rhetoric. They work, recognizing the importance of relations with their northern neighbor, to improve the lot of their people. Much has been written about the success of President Ignacio Luis “Lula” Da Silva in Brazil, Nestor Kirchner of Argentina where Kirchner’s wife, Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, is now President, Chile’s Michele Bachelet and Uruguay’s Tabere Vazquez. In Uruguay former Tupamara guerilla Jose Mujica will be sworn in as President March 1, 2010. Mujica, after 14 years in prison, two of them in solitary confinement in the bottom of a well, has said Brazil’s Da Silva will be his role model.
So. What does this about people in Latin America finally awakening and taking action to bring about fairness and opportunity have to do with America? Well, just that. People finally recognizing their best hope for their future and that of their children lies not with empty promises from their leaders, the willing operatives of the finance, insurance, real estate and banking industry (FIRE) which owns them, but rather within their willingness to organize, demonstrate, demand, improvement and change for all Americans.
Before the last Presidential election, many, many Americans wanted to believe such change could and would come with the election of Barack Obama. At this point, the President has shown little willingness to do the difficult and, alright, “down and dirty” work that has to be done at the top levels of the FIRE octopus-like apparatus that would devour any hope that the American middle class will survive and the poor, unemployed and homeless will have any meaningful chance for a better, more secure existence.
Will the tame, corporate-owned media help the administration to convince us that up to 10 percent unemployment is acceptable and normal? Will there be a freeze on housing foreclosures? Will there be a program of federal jobs to repair and improve the crumbling infrastructure of highways and bridges? Will there be a robust project to manufacture high speed rail and electric cars? Go ahead and laugh. But, try not to cry.
Our “leaders” from the President through the Congress already have demonstrated their inability or unwillingness to take on the bully boys of the insurance lobby. Their will be no so-called health reform with a compassionate and workable public option. Hundreds of thousands, or more, will be left without any health insurance.
Until the common people decide to bring about meaningful change for their lives, it will not happen.
The President has not shown the will to demand re-regulation of the banking industry. The Glass-Steagall Act, which prohibited commercial banks from acting like investment banks or insurance companies, was abolished by former President Bill Clinton, and Obama is now siding with those who oppose a new Glass-Steagall. Banking is still controlled by an oligopoly. The anti-trust laws we still have should be used to break them up to prevent their exercise of too much power.
The President and Congress, dependent on the corporate powers that own the U.S. government, seem paralyzed in a time of economic crisis in which, if any improvement is made, will benefit only those at the top. The rich will keep getting more. The rest of us will just have to make do with whatever benefits we glean from our work or from a government that does not really care all that much.
As one U.S. Senator said, “The banks run this place.”

Jack Fairweather is an educator and a trustee on the village board in Magdalena. He can be reached at His views do not necessarily represent the Mountain Mail.

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