Monday, April 25, 2011

Have we stopped learning?

A guy walks up to you in the street and punches you in the face. Hurts like hell.

Next day, you see the same guy walking towards you. Pow! He punches you again. Fuck!

Day after that you see this bastard yet again. You walk up to him, stare him in the face and say "'do it again, only harder this time."

This is what our country is like right now.

Used to be, we learned from stupid decisions. The depression was caused by lax regulation on business and made worse by the lack of a safety net. So we tightened up regulations and created a saftey net. Makes sense.

Poor judgment and high-level corruption got us into an unwinnable war in Southeast Asia that lasted over a decade. So we started cracking down on corruption and holding our leaders more accountable through an aggressive media. Great idea.

A concentration of executive power and an overly trusting populace led to Nixon's infamous Watergate scandal. So we threatened impeachment, forcing him to resign from office. And we developed a healthy skepticism about our leaders. Lesson learned.

But over the past 30 years or so, that ability to learn from our stupidity has disappeared.

In the 80s, Wall Street went wild, enabling corruption at levels never seen before. Markets crashed. Scandals erupted all over the place. And we spent the next 30 years further deregulating the financial marketplace. Huh?

In the 90s, the Twin Towers were bombed by an extreme Islamic group, killing 6 people and injuring thousands. So we spent the next decade allowing our intelligence agencies to become more fragmented and less communicative, keeping critical information from each other that could have helped prevent 9/11. What?

In the 2000s, after 9/11, we were at a rare moment in history. A moment where people were prepared to sacrifice their own well-being to bring the country together and ensure its safety and prosperity for future generations. But instead, we went shopping. Are you fucking kidding me?

Later in that same decade, we experienced what could go down as the worst economic collapse our nation has ever seen. The financial industry pretty much decimated every corner of our economy through fraud, deception, negligence and outright theft. Millions were left jobless. Many were tossed from their homes. And countless more were left holding the deeds to properties worth tens of thousands less than what they owed.

What a perfect chance to right the ship and regain control over our financial industry. We could create an industry that actually works to enable investment in real businesses. We could write regulations that actually hold people accountable for their actions. We could institute policies that begin to reverse the extreme inequalities created by decades of financial mismanagement. And we could put the executives who defrauded America in jail, letting everyone see that we consider white-collar crime just as serious, if not more so, than street crime.

So that's what happened right?

Not even close. Instead, we decided to dump a few trillion dollars into the pockets of those who killed our economy—without any conditions on how they used that cash. We have convicted exactly zero financial executives. We have instituted a watered down regulatory bill that essentially leaves the system as-is. And, to top it all off, we have decided that we simply can't afford to invest in jobs, infrastructure and health care for those most hurt by the crisis.

Pow! Take that America! Right in the fucking kisser.

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