The Wall Street meltdown is simply a reflection of our culture. In spite of serious warnings in our history, for example the gasoline scare in the 70’s, when the Arab nations taught us a lesson we never assimilated. The 70’s were also the start of the environmental movement which quickly lost steam when energy became cheap and abundant again. We became a nation of squanderers.
Even though we knew 38 years ago that oil was not a renewable source of energy and even though we started then entertaining ideas of alternate fuels, nothing came out of it, whether due to the oil companies effective lobbying, or to the indifference of our politicians who believed in carpe diem and future generations be damned.
The economic crisis is not due to mortgage foreclosures (97% of mortgage holders are paying their debt faithfully), as our fearless leaders in Congress would have us believe, but to the greed of Wall Street brokers who invented new defective financial instruments which nobody could understand. Bill Steigerwald of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review says “Yes, the greedy, corrupt, corporate and political rats on Wall Street and in Washington are largely responsible for the meltdown..”.
One example of the cozy relationship between Washington and lobbyists is Sen. Chris Dodd (Connecticut) as cited in ‘Source Watch’ “Dodd has received more money from Arthur Andersen than any other Democrat – $54 843.00 – and has aggressively worked to insulate Arthur Andersen and other accounting firms from liability to defrauded investors in cases like Enron.” Arthur Andersen and Enron have of course disappeared as companies, but the fact that they gave heavily to Sen. Dodd’s campaigns indicates clearly the quid pro quo of American politics which has landed us in the present mess. Multiply this fact by 535 (total members of Congress) and you’ll better understand the urgent need to elect anybody but the present incumbents.
But lest we conveniently heap 100% of the blame on our politicians and greedy corporations, let’s us not forget that we have become a nation of squanderers and indifferent voters. Less than 50% of citizens bother to participate in the elections on average, apparently content with the status quo or, ominously, convinced that their vote will not change anything.
We squander with abandon. Our garbage would make many Third World inhabitants jump with joy at the hidden riches. We have not embraced the European passion for recycling, assured that somebody else will take care of sorting out the mess. We are the main contributors to global warming due to our enormous consumption of oil, yet we look with suspicion at those who signal a future catastrophe: “Let the next generation take care of the mess.”
It is time to look at our cultural soul and decry wasteful habits. Our children and their children will look upon us with disdain, asking why we did nothing when all the signs pointed to serious problems. The financial crisis was totally preventable, were it not for the corrupt bond between lobbyists and members of Congress. They should have done their job as our representatives, but the only job they are interested in is to get reelected and become rich. But then, we voted for them, didn’t we?