Once again the federal government has left Americans in a precarious state as a terrible storm is passing through the U.S. economy. Like Hurricane Katrina, some folks thought the government could keep them from harm, but, as in New Orleans, things have gotten out of control quickly as bad housing loans have shredded the economy.
Christopher Cox, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, knew for perhaps a year that some large financial and insurance companies were buying risky housing loans, hoping to make a quick buck on consumers paying mortgage interest. But instead of issuing strict warnings against such irresponsible business moves, Cox sat in his Washington office and fiddled.
Unlike Cox, most investors in companies like AIG and Merrill Lynch did not know that bad loans were becoming part of their portfolios; they had no idea their so-called "blue chip" stocks were really Las Vegas-type situations. And Cox did not tell them.
Congressman Barney Frank also sat by as mortgage brokers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made bad loans even though Frank, as head of the House Banking Committee, certainly knew the score. Instead of demanding responsible business practices from Fannie and Freddie, Frank continued to pound the table to extend even more credit to "low income" families. The mortgage companies were happy to accommodate him, giving big money to folks with little collateral.
So now the U.S. economy has imploded along with President Bush's legacy. He appointed Christopher Cox and it is on his watch that millions of Americans are suffering economically. This is certainly not the way the President wanted to go out.
In the movie "Wall Street," Michael Douglas tells the audience that "greed, for lack of a better word, is good." Of course, that is false. Greed leads to chaos, always. And now we have it.
Capitalism is the best economic system on earth because it allows people to work hard and reach their potential. But like everything else, capitalism can be perverted. Bad guys can game the system.
That's why the federal government set up the SEC and other alleged safeguards--to protect the folks from corporate criminals and incompetents. It is simply wrong for a CEO to bankrupt a company and walk away with a multi-million dollar severance package. But that has happened at Merrill Lynch and many other badly mismanaged companies.
Greedheads aside, there is a thing called "economic justice." If Americans lose faith in capitalism, if they think the system is rigged, then the United States will enter a steep decline.
That could happen this time around. Poor leaders like Cox and Frank are just a small part of a corrupt system that is now harming honest Americans. Whoever the next President is must put an end to this.