“I am opposing a social order inwhich it is possible for one manwho does absolutely nothing that isuseful to amass a fortune ofhundreds of millions of dollars,while millions of men and womenwho work all the days of their livessecure barely enough for awretched existence.” – Eugene V. Debs3 4
That said, minimizing or eliminatingregulations is a truly terrible idea, onpar with giving George W. Bush athird term or hiring Casey Anthony tobabysit your kid. President Clintonrepealed many laws that regulatedbanking and finance. After that, thesize of banks dramatically increasedas investment banks gobbled upcommercial banks, creating theproblem of “too big to fail.”Too big to fail is too big to exist.Without regulations, oversight, andgovernment-enforced transparency,consumers, smaller businesses, andworkers are at the mercy of creditcard companies, banksters, andmultinational corporations.Don’t forget, there was a time inAmerican history without the FederalReserve, when the dollar was backedby gold, and there were few lawsgoverning the economy, protectingworkers’ rights, or safeguarding the environment. It was a time of tenements,child labor, sweatshops, deadly workplace accidents, brutal exploitation, andenvironmental destruction, when the war between labor and capital waslethal for the 99% because the 1% hired armies to drown union organizingdrives in blood.Who in their right mind would want to go back to that?Cutting government spending by closing schools, shrinking agencies like theEnvironmental Protection Agency, privatizing Social Security, and firingteachers, cops, firefighters, and postal workers is the worst thing that couldhappen to the 99%. Greece did exactly that after the bottom fell out of theireconomy in 2008, and their economy has shrunk every year since: -3.3%growth in 2009, -3.4% in 2010, and -6.8% in 2011.Greece’s shrinking economy is making their debt problem worse with eachpassing year. The deeper in debt they go, the more cuts Europe’s banksdemand in exchange for bailouts, the more cuts there are, the more theireconomy shrinks, the deeper in debt they go. It’s a vicious cycle.
Capitalism Is the Problem
Greece is stark example of what capitalism has in store for us in the not-too-distant future. Under capitalism, it is rational for banks to avoid losing moneyon loans to governments like Greece because profits are priority #1. If thoseprofits come at the expense of Greece’s pensions for the elderly, theirminimum wage, or other things that serve the 99%, so be it.What’s rational for capitalism isn’t rational for us. The more you think aboutcapitalism the less sense it makes.Take health care. Medical bills are the #1 reason for personal bankruptcy inAmerica. We are #1 in the world when it comes to health care costs but #37when it comes to delivering quality care according to the World HealthOrganization. Our for-profit health care system is all buck and no bang,although the CEOs of health carecompanies are among the bestpaid of any industry’s.So insurance companies nickeland dime their customers out ofbenefits, drug makers spendbillions to prevent cheapergenerics from getting onto themarket, and the 99% either getlucky to find a job with benefits orthey end up waiting for hours inemergency rooms after it’s too late to be cured. Or both.Health care should not depend on where or whether you work or how muchyou’ve got in your bank account.The result of a for-profit health care system is this: the people who have theleast and need care the most are the least likely to get it, while the peoplewho have the most and need the care the least receive the best care andenjoy the longest, healthiest lives.The 99% live longer, healthier, and for less when we remove profit from thehealth care system. We get more bang for the buck once the system isn’tdedicated to making a buck.
The Common Sense Solution
The encampments we created showed on a small scale what a society notgeared around making profits for the 1% could be like. Did we charge peoplefor the food we served? Did we charge rent for tents? Did we make peoplepay for gloves, coats, and first aid? No! Everyone was fed, housed, andgiven clothes despite our limited means.