It is now almost a year and a half since the economy of the United States started to unravel. Companies have failed. Unemployment is at it's highest in decades. States like California teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, lurching from one partial solution to another, all predicated on future growth to pay the debts. TARP was passed and some of the banks have even repaid their debts… mostly in the interest of avoiding future government regulation.
It is that sticky question of regulation that should be in everyone's mind. I listened to Andrew Ross Sorkin and Charlie Rose today discuss Sorkin's recent book, Too Big to Fail. It is an enlightening conversation in that Sorkin has had access to almost all of the major players: Paulson, Geitner, Bernanke, etc. The story he peaces together is mind boggling, especially when you consider the pace at which it was all happening.
What is even more mind boggling is the fact that not a single piece of new legislation has left Congress to land on the President's desk that would help us avoid such problems in the future. I argued before that Health Insurance Reform was a critical mistake for Obama in that it is preventing us from having the discussion on climate change that we really need to be having. Health Insurance Reform will save a few lives. Dealing effectively with climate change will save millions.
Yet, as Sorkin tells us near the end of the program, for all the demand for new legislation that accompanied the bailout, for all the public outcry for re-regulation, or at least for regulators who were willing to regulate, nothing has happened. Maybe Congress is happy to have the tea baggers railing about Socialize Medicine. It keeps us from having to deal with the substantive changes to our system that need to be made.
In the meantime, our economy has improved a bit. At least that is what investors on Wall Street think. They have run up the prices of many stock. In fact, Sorkin tells us that banks are now re-inflating their balance sheet by valuing up those same toxic assets they tried to dump not so long ago.
Greens need to be reminding everyone that it will be harder and harder to make these needed changes as the remembrance of the catastrophe passes from Washington minds. We need to be sending letters to Congress asking where are the protections that they promised. Otherwise, we will do it all over again, with mortgages on flooded properties along low lying coasts, with credit default swaps to cover the pricing risks of carbon trading.
An unregulated carbon market is not something I want to control my future.
The choices that this administration has made point to not the socialist / Marxist ideology that Republicans are so worried about. Rather they point to a group of political technocrats who are over confident in their ability to manage opinion that they are willing to risk our future by avoiding the hard problems. Well, the hard problems are still there and we have done nothing.