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Point: The myth of the marketplace


Robin Meyers July 31st, 2008

It is difficult to imagine being a supporter of Sen. John McCain with an economy like this. The defining difference between Democrats and Republicans is that the latter believes that the marketplace c...

It is difficult to imagine being a supporter of Sen. John McCain with an economy like this. The defining difference between Democrats and Republicans is that the latter believes that the marketplace can solve all the problems of life. Cut taxes on the rich, de-regulate business, put industry foxes in charge of the regulatory hen house and all will be well.

All is not well.

America is on the verge of financial collapse and the free-market, crony-capitalism of the Bush administration deserves most of the credit. Between an immoral war fought off the books, private contractors who stole most of the money meant to rebuild Iraq, incompetent government leaders picked for their loyalty and not their competence and government action to save companies but not desperate human beings, the long reign of neo-conservatives has come to a disgraceful end " unless, of course, we elect John McCain Bush III.

Now facing a planetary crisis and an addiction to oil that funds petro-dictators, the Bush/McCain approach is denial. Addicted to oil? Their answer is to get more addicted. Gas prices too high? Drill in more places so that the price of the drug goes down. This is akin to telling someone addicted to crack cocaine that the problem isn't what the drug is doing to his body. The cure is to find cheaper crack, so that the addiction can continue and the destruction of the body can accelerate.

After 9/11, Bush told us to go shopping. Now we are told to go drilling. If you like this approach to leadership, this depth of vision, this concern for the common man, then elect John McCain. If not, Sen. Barack Obama deserves a chance to start changing the course of this country before it's too late.

Ever since the reign of the charmingly devious Ronald Reagan, conservatives have persuaded Americans that the answer to all problems is to cut taxes (on the wealthy), free companies from burdensome regulation, weaken the power of unions and exploit the cheap labor of illegal immigrants. More insidious, the message is that the purpose of free enterprise is to create wealth for the few by any means, not create the means to pay workers enough to live decent, productive lives. Now, we have the greatest inequity of wealth in this country since just before the Great Depression.

The sad truth is that if you do not regulate businesses sensibly and fairly, bandits will steal us blind. Enron was an example of what the Bush crowd believed was the perfect corporation. And, while millions of families were losing their homes, our "family values" government stepped in to save Bear Sterns, and now Freddie and Fannie. Think about it? We are not a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In Washington, profits are privatized while risks are socialized.

OU president David Boren correctly noted in his recent book, "A Letter to America," "The country we love is in trouble. In truth, we are in grave danger of declining as a nation. If we do not act quickly, that decline will become dramatic." 

Not to worry, says former McCain economic advisor Phil Graham, this is a "mental recession," so quit whining. With all due respect, Mr. Graham, but we are not whining. We are finally waking up just in time to say good night to the likes of you.  

Why would anyone vote for the economic status quo in November? 

Robin Meyers is minister of Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City and professor of rhetoric in the philosophy department at Oklahoma City University. His sermons can be heard at 9:30 a.m. Sundays on KOKC-AM 1520.

 
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