It never ceases to amaze me that Americans are, at least according to the news media, so afraid of "socialism" that our elected officials are afraid to use the word "nationalize." News flash - the system of free market capitalism has gone bust and the entire world is crashing and burning! But we're so afraid of being socialists -even though I doubt that 1 out of any 10 people really know what that means - that we continue to pump public money down various capitalist rat holes. I've written it before on this blog, and I'll say it again - if private companies make very bad business decisions and can't survive - let them die. This is, after all, the free market way. (btw - even Thomas Friedman now agrees with me - see his column today in the NY Times).
Example - why are we bailing out General Motors? This is a company that has made bad decisions for decades, and has spent big bucks fighting every attempt to regulate them (for consumer and environmental safety), and they are now faced with bankruptcy. The best thing we can do is let them fail, clean out the management, and see if they can recreate an automobile business that is in tune with the 21st century.
And what about the big banks, like Bank of America and Citigroup? The management at these companies has violated every bit of the public trust, all in the name of unbridled greed. And yet, we, the taxpayers, are pumping billions of dollars into these firms, with no guarantee that anything will change. It's past time to nationalize these institutions. Critics of nationalization are saying that the government doesn't have the experience or skill to run these failed banks - um, can it get any worse than it did under the capable and skilled leadership of the present management?
But there is a larger underlying agenda here - the future of capitalism itself. Now don't go bolting the doors and getting out the shotguns - I'm not talking about commies taking over. I am talking about instituting some very basic and drastic changes in our economic system, a rationalization of the economy that takes the personal and institutional greed factor out of the equation. What will this new system look like? I don't know, but there are a lot of smart people out there who certainly have viable ideas.
Our economy is based on all of us consumers continually buying as much useless junk as we can get our hands on to prop up the factories in China and the big box stores scattered around our landscape - and to which we have to drive in out gas-guzzling and polluting automobiles. It's not a rational or a sustainable system, as we now see very plainly.
I'm open to some new and radical ideas - how about you? (assignment: google "alternative economic systems" and browse round for a bit....)