|Sent on:||Thursday, February 2, 2012 11:56 AM|
The President Must Combat Commercialism to Rebuild America
January 13, 2012
By Michael J. Aguirre
Kris: Imagine … making a child take something it doesn’t want … just because he bought too many of the wrong toys. That’s what I’ve been fighting against for years … the way they commercialize Christmas.
Alfred: A lot of bad “isms” floating around this world … but one of the worst is commercialism. Miracle on 34th Street
Rebuilding America requires all of us to promote the general welfare of all the people of the United States. For too long, as Robert Kennedy said, we have put the “mere accumulation of material things” ahead of our patriotic duty to serve the common good.
Worse we have surrendered to a form of commercialism based on “force, fraud and unconscionable greed.” We have allowed our competitive markets to erode. The need to provide full and fair disclosure in the sale of securities has been abandoned. We have given up on preventing frauds. Inequitable and unfair market practices go unabated; we foster and reward them.
Our government has been handed over to a small number of financial players who use government favors to deny equal business opportunity. They have extended a network of control in which credit is granted according to connections not character. The government has got into the hands of the bosses and an invisible empire has been set up above our democracy, as President Wilson remarked of a similar time in 1912.
In 2008 the power of selfish commercial interests over our government reached its zenith. A small group of financiers forced the United States government to pay billions of dollars of their losses from high stakes derivative gambling conducted in private casinos in the nation’s largest banks.
Rather than denounce the government for paying off the derivative gambling losses, President Obama cited it for saving us from another Great Depression. Instead of stopping the out-of- control commercialism of the derivate gamblers President Obama facilitated it with new permissive regulations, he hopes will avoid more bailouts but admits will not stop derivative gaming.
These derivative gamesters have infested our political system with their ugly commercial practices. They pay to elect the President, Senators and Representatives. The gamblers have soldered their reckless derivative trading practices to the emergency machinery the government uses to help distressed banks recover financial health.
President Obama has broken with the wisdom of Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson, and Roosevelt when it comes to dealing with selfish commercial interests:
President Jefferson: “I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”
President Jackson: “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.”
President Wilson:“A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”
President Roosevelt: “Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers.”
The election of President Obama was hopeful. When he began his presidency in 2009 Democrats had a[masked] edge over the Republicans in the House, and a 58-41 edge in the Senate. But the President failed to seize the moment. In his inaugural address he made a passing reference to “greed and irresponsibility on the part of some” and said the financial “crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control.” But his were weak, weasel words uttered with no passion or sense of purpose.
President Obama erred in delivering a tepid inaugural address. He has not been strong in character, determined in purpose or bold in vision. He has not discerned or strengthened the tendencies upon which our development as a nation is based. Missing has been a profound sympathy for those whom he was supposed to lead. He has not been a leader of his party, of a legislative agenda, nor a spokesperson for the people. In short, he has not been a success in the arena of national politics in our democracy.
President Obama has been an able voice for the bankers and financial interests who finance his campaign. He proved that by bringing more money to his campaign from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data.
President Obama is young enough and good enough to recover from these errors. He can take confidence from the fact that “in every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves.” President Obama can go along ways to advancing his cause by dropping the claims that the bailout stopped a depression and the financial reforms will stop another bailout. The first is an excuse for the bailout, and the second an excuse for more reckless derivative trading. Both represent the ugly face of today’s commercialism.
President Obama can help his reelection and advance his chances for a successful presidency by embracing the tradition of the 4 Democratic Party Presidents. Presidents Jefferson, Jackson, Wilson and Roosevelt were all elected to at least two full terms because the people trusted they represented the common good of the nation. All four rank in the top 10 of our best presidents. All possessed moral courage. All four spoke for their generation. All four kept concentrated, selfishness commercialism out of the White House.
Michael J. Aguirre is a lawyer in a private practice at Aguirre Morris & Severson LLP, and is the former City Attorney for the City of San Diego.