Teddy, Taft and Trust-Busting

I haven’t studied the monopoly era or the gilded age in depth. However, I know enough about them to understand why Roosevelt and Taft pushed to eliminate trusts and monopolies: to prevent a handful of companies from overly influencing the economy.

It seems, with the deregulation started by Reagan and continued through Clinton, that we have forgotten Roosevelt’s and Taft’s warnings about too much corporate control of the market.

If a company is too big for the government to allow it to fail, if it is so important for the economy to keep a company afloat, despite bad management, maybe we need to go back to Roosevelt and Taft thinking and begin forcing these companies to break up.

We can’t go five years without a crisis. We’ve had the savings and loan crisis, the technology stock bubble bursting, the accounting crisis with Enron, etc., the mortgage crisis, and now that is leading into a banking/investment crisis. What’s next? Do we repeat the cycle and replace the technology bubble with a renewable energy bubble and do the whole thing over again?

I’m no expert on regulation, I guess both McCain and Obama are talking about more regulation, although I don’t know what they mean, I am getting bored of this election cycle already. You hear people say all the time that the government doesn’t work. They cite examples of ways private businesses can do things better and cheaper, that private businesses are more efficient, or less bureaucratic. But what you don’t hear is that it doesn’t take very many unscrupulous company CEOs more interested in their bonus than doing the right thing to ruin an economy.

Do we really want those people running the country more than they already do now? You don’t hear how important to us on a daily basis government can be, look at police departments and fire departments, social security benefits, sewage treatment centers, the roads, the air we breath, the water we drink, the lakes we fish on, or the bald eagle I saw in Eagan last week. The most important aspect of government is not efficiency, maximizing profit or minimizing expenses.

The whole reason we need a government is for protection. I don’t just mean the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard, or the police or fire department, I mean protection from forces the common person can’t protect themselves from. Protection from giant conglomerates with resources beyond the possibilities of the common man to fight, protection from CEOs who are more concerned with their bottom line than the safety of the public or well being of the American economy, protection for those among us who can’t protect themselves.

Regulation may be a bureaucratic nightmare, but it is a bureaucratic necessity. I cannot comprehend why “we” as nation always needs to wait until something bad happens before we react.

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One thought on “Teddy, Taft and Trust-Busting”

  1. Having worked in the financial industry for many years, I am not in the least bit surprised by the crisis. The corporate executives got greedier and greedier. So did the financial analysts from the firms of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, etc. So did the investors who read the analysts' reports. Do you think any of these people are paying for the bail-out? No. The rest of us and our families will being paying for their greed for decades, perhaps generations, to come. We shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that McCain and the Republicans will do anything to help the average faimly in the years ahead. Oh yeah, the said executives, financial analsyts & thier bosses, and the investors are all Republicans. Why do you think that is?

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