There Oughta be a Law…

How many times has something really catastrophic happened followed by people scratching their heads and saying, “There ought to be a law.”  I wonder how many of these same people would call such laws “regulation” because that’s exactly what they are.  Deregulation?  Deregulation is the removal of laws, including laws that protect us from harm.  In all the talk and rhetoric about less government and deregulation, this point is lost.

This morning I opened the newspaper to read about babies sick and dying in China because of tainted milk.  I searched for articles from all over the world about the scandal.  All of them contained the same refrain:  tighter regulations.  What does this say to me?  There were not enough laws to protect these people from milk that could kill or harm their children.

When it comes right down to it, deregulation is only a good thing to people who are only concerned with making more money.  Deregulation means letting the market (e.g., greed) determine entirely what should happen and what should not happen.  Here in the US, we are experiencing firsthand what it means to let the market make decisions.  It means letting greed make moral choices.  It means letting corporations balance a baby’s life versus the cost to make its milk safer.  Unfortunately, in many cases it is cheaper to let the child die than it is to fix the milk.  There are profits to be made by putting someone into a house they can’t afford.  Who cares if a family ends up on the street in three years?  We made our money. The market made the decision for us.

When we use sanitized terms to describe real, human, moral conditions, when these terms become buzzwords, it is so easy to forget that real people with real lives are involved and affected.  Deregulation means there are no laws to protect us from harm.  Letting the market regulate itself means letting money and profit determine what decisions are made.  Too often, these decisions have nothing to do with humanity and morality and instead focus entirely on making a profit.

Ranting

As a bankruptcy attorney, I dealt day to day with the fallout of the “sub-prime” mortgage crisis.  It’s getting worse.  ARM loan rates go up, people have less money to pay their other bills, they get behind, call the bankruptcy attorney.  I heard story after story, helped when I could, but the system is broken.  There are no safety nets for people.

What I find ironic, and what really actually pisses me off, is that these huge banks have been screaming Deregulation! Deregulation! Deregulation! for years and they got what they wanted.  Credit card companies do what they want when they want.  Sub-prime home loans are commonplace.  What few laws that are left are ignored by greedy lenders looking to suck in any consumer desperate enough to want a home.  And now the house of cards is falling all around us and what do the big banks do?  Go crying to Congress to fix it for them.

Two years ago these banks asked Congress to punish the shit out of consumers filing for bankruptcy claiming they were losing too much and consumers were getting away with something.  Consumers need to take better responsibility for their financial decisions!  They need to pay for their mistakes!  Congress jumped on board and passed some of the worst legislation ever designed.  It ignored reality and served a very rich few.  It has not stopped bankruptcy, it has only made it a bigger pain in the ass.  Now the banks are suffering from their own stupidity and greed and they want Congress to fix it for them.  What happened to RESPONSIBILITY?  What happened to paying for your own MISTAKES?  How about we create legislation like the bankruptcy laws and stick it to their asses?  Oh no, they’ll whine.  You can’t do THAT.  It will hurt the ECONOMY!  Fuck, the economy is a mess.  Anything that looks like stability is an illusion.  Consumer purchases are paid for by borrowed money.  The US is in debt up to its eyeballs.  It’s going to come crashing to the ground.  It is inevitable.   Congress can pretend to try and bail out these stupid fucking banks, but it’s only going to be a bandaid.

Capitalism is a triangle.  It requires a bottom to keep the shit running.  It also requires a down to every up.  We have been in a pretend up for a very long time.  It’s going to come back down.  Everyone who is on the deregulation boat is going to get what they deserve.  There is a reason we don’t want pure laissez-faire capitalism.  There is a reason we need to regulate.  We only need to look at China to see what capitalism without regulation looks like…children working horrible hours for worthless pay, no safety standards, a good deal of the country in poverty while a rich few sit back with guns, shooting those who dare to question them.

Okay.  I have to stop.  I’m getting all irritated.  I just find it ironic that the same banks who worked so damn hard for deregulation are the same ones that want us to bail them out.