We were warned against this. In fact, the founders of this country worked very hard to avoid such fates and put their advice on the record. The ideas of equal protection and equal justice under the law are fundamental principles of this country. Many people in history have fought, sweat, bled and died to establish and preserve these ideas. However, these principles are now being ignored, dismissed and disregarded. They are being replaced with a domestic version of European classism and the early results are similar.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are beginning to establish different rules of governance for different classes of people. Our government’s economic policies and the criminal justice system are the biggest examples of how this country has divided the classes. While the public is constantly fooled by race, the dangers of class privilege and exception are far worse. If the public does not wake up and reign in this beast, history proves this will only lead to dangerous social and economic consequences.
We have become a society that legislates special favors for Wall Street bankers, well-connected corporate big-wigs and certain industries with special ties to the powerful elites in Washington. These folks represent the 21th-century American aristocracy. A new and improved version of 18th century European classism is being resurrected right under our collective noses. The normal rules and standards of capitalism have been recently bent in their favor at the detriment of everyone else that conducts business in the economy. Maintenance of their profits is deemed more important than the inflation it causes.
The last two administrations have essentially changed the rules of American capitalism. Yes, the history of this country is littered with examples inequality. However, our government has now made this inequality official written policy. The glass-ceiling is now so high, the American people no longer even recognize it is there. Today’s politicians have given us “Too Big to Fail”, “Too Big to Jail” and “Too Important to File Bankruptcy”. Executives who either caused or allowed the destruction of our economy have been allowed to walk the streets freely, simply because our government says they are too important to be held accountable for their actions. However these acts of fraud and price manipulation caused a worldwide economic collapse and deterioration of public wealth.
Those involved in massive fraud received no jail time for their illegality even though millions of Americans suffered because of it. However, the pardoned executives are now richer than ever before. The companies that engaged in massive fraud are more profitable today than in the years before the collapse. Our government’s new policy essentially says the bigger the crime and the bigger the public impact, the less aggressive the prosecution. These criminals may have to pay a percentage of their gains to the government via civil fines, but they never have to see a minute inside a criminal courtroom or have to spend even a second in jail. As the statute of limitation nears, our government clearly has no intention of applying the law to those responsible for crashing the economy.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the tracks, American families are suffering harder than ever. Participation in the job market now stands at record lows. Rising commodities prices means higher prices for eggs, milk and sugar for everyone. Biting inflation and higher costs of living are wiping out the most vibrant middle-class on the planet. Many full-time employees are working only to pay bills. Others are having problems finding full-time employment at all. Although Wall Street is breaking records for profits, wages are being reduced and middle-class wealth is decreasing by double-digit percentages.
Companies like General Motors who recently received taxpayer funded bailouts to ensure their existence and profitability have now pilfered the pensions of their retirees, which forces many to supplement this income elsewhere.
As bad as our economic classism stands, criminal classism is equally bad. Although no Wall Street fraud agent has spent a minute in jail for their crime, our prison population is over-crowded with non-violent criminals guilty of hurting nobody but themselves. Prison inmates manufacture furniture, utensils, uniforms and countless other products that compete with standard labor in the free market. Of course, having almost-free labor does wonders for stock prices.
Minimum occupancy contracts between state government and private prison contractors encourages our judicial system to produce more “occupants” to fulfill these agreements. For example, a judge in Texas was recently removed for cooperating with prosecutors and sending instructions via text. Our system seems to no longer care about discerning guilt or innocence and simply about bringing in more laborers. This pattern is more indicative of European serfdom than American criminal justice.
Our country incarcerates more people than the entire world combined, but justice is not executed equally across the board. Our government carves out special exceptions for those deemed too important to be held accountable for their own criminal activity. Millions of companies have been forced into bankruptcy over the years. However, our government creates legislation and agrees to assume private debt in order to protect special companies from experiencing business failure. Their debts are socialized. Their profits are privatized. This trend cannot continue without terrible economic consequences for the non-recipients who have to pay via inflation and devaluation of their currency.
The American people need to pay closer attention to the lessons history provides and the warning the Founders relayed. Thomas Jefferson once said “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”
The American people can decide to believe Bernanke or Jefferson. If we take the advice of the former, we should not be surprised to see other special exceptions emerge later. History proves “Too Big to Fail” will not be the end.