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Free Enterprise

Triumph, disaster and crisis

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It's time to recognize the current economic condition for what it is: the Bush Depression.

Naming the depression after Bush may be a little unfair, because he was not responsible for instituting all the policies that began with Ronald Reagan. But he did oversee the triumph of Republican policies, which along with assistance from pro-corporate Democrats and bipartisan corruption, led to the depression: low taxes, less regulation, a relentless push for the globalization of finance, loose money policies, shipping manufacturing to China and blind faith in "the market" and "free enterprise."

And then there's the oil- and gas-industry-based Koch brothers. The Kochs and corporations pour money into think tanks, policy groups, universities, publications and right-wing religious cults to promote their free-enterprise agenda. Their money spent on shaping the public debate and public policy doesn't include the $30.1 billion over the past 10 years that corporations spent to lobby Congress. Additionally, the upcoming 2012 elections will run over $8 billion, mostly donated by corporations.

Corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash that they can't invest because they can't sell their products; people who borrowed too much and overleveraged during the Bush years simply don't have any money.

People are angry. The rich doubled their share of national income over the past 30 years, and the top 1 percent now own 83 percent of all U.S. stocks. The number of poor people is at a 15-year high, and the middle class is shrinking. Some 61 percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and the bottom 50 percent of income earners own less than 1 percent of the country's wealth.

Republicans oppose every Obama policy, downplay the central role they played in creating the depression and pursue the same policies that created the downturn: low taxes and no regulation.

Economic uncertainty and hate-mongering politicians contribute to an atmosphere of fear. Others claim that empires fall when the disparity between the rich and poor grows to the extent it has in the United States today. Can violence be far behind?

Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California–based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire.

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