While I am dismayed at the continual chaos in financial markets, it is interesting to note that in the US, at least, this chaos is traceable to the systematic dismantling of regulations designed to protect the investor. There has been a mantra chanted by the ‘suits’ that unrestricted free markets are the universal solution to all problems. The politicians here in Canada still chant this as they systematicly sell off strategic assets — turning this once strong economy into a client state. All while telling us that we will be more competitive and better off. That was what the US voters were told while special interests pushed for the dismantling of regulations that ended up in the chaos we are all enduring.
Why is it that when politicians get a bad idea into their heads it is impossible to shake it, no matter how devastating the real world experiences are? Could it be that what they really want is to return to a feudal society where a wealth few can do what they want and the rest of us, no longer a comfortable middle class, but starving peasants labor to pay for their elaborate palaces and huddle in fear that we will be noticed? It is interesting that the consequence of all the deregulation in the US was a concentration of wealth — fewer people got more and the rest got less. It seems to happen everywhere the disease spreads — guess the politicians and their golfing buddies are expecting to stay with the ‘haves’.
Deregulation of utilities was an idea originally pushed by Enron — let the market take care of supply and everything will be rosy. Turned out they were manipulating the market to maximize their own profits. But that was not enough to cover the losses from their off-balance sheet deals that eventually brought them crashing down. In the US this idea spread and the results were always shortages and cost increases — everyone is net worse off. But re-regulating the utilities is just not mentioned.
Here in Ontario, after dismantling the provincial utility and restructuring it into a group of ‘independent’ companies a similar curve is being followed — costs are going up, money is poured into hairbrained schemes to make green electricity by devastating the rural landscape with huge wind turbines — despite the European experience that while wind farms might contribute, they are no substitute for coal or nuclear generation. And the experience of others just doesn’t apply…
My fear is that the only way this will ever be addressed is by a general economic collapse and social restructuring. Collectively, we have turned over the reins of power to the greedy and they are stealing for all they are worth. And we are all net worse off. Unfortunately, NONE of the ABOVE is not on the ballot in either the US or Canada.