Monday, September 22, 2008

At The Very Least

The process is stunning in its hubris and mendacity, and two of the most potent enablers of this unprecedented act of corporate welfare are John McCain and Barack Obama.

...Ralph Nader, who has spent his adult life battling corporations, understands more about the rise of the corporate state and the steady fleecing of American citizens by corporations than anyone else in the country.

Nader has come up with 10 market reforms that he says need to be implemented immediately along with any bailout. These reforms are:

No bailouts without conditions and reciprocity in the form of stock warrants.
No more lobbying for any company that is bailed out.
No golden parachutes or get-out-of-jail-free cards for guilty executives.
No bailouts without public hearings.
Reduce the moral hazard in U.S. mortgage markets by introducing covered bonds for the majority of mortgage products, as is done in Western Europe. That gives institutions that finance mortgages an incentive to be prudent, because they cannot just unload them and wipe their hands clean of the liability, but are instead on the hook if the homeowner defaults.
Maintain neighborhood stability and housing security by passing a law with a sunset clause allowing below-median-value homeowners facing foreclosure the right to “rent to own” their homes at fair market value rates.
Avoid future housing bubbles by removing implicit government guarantees for new mortgages that exceed thresholds of greater than 15 to 20 times the annual fair market rent value of the home.
Make the Federal Reserve a Cabinet position, so it is accountable to Congress, as well as make sure all Federal Reserve Bank presidents are appointed by the president and answerable to Congress.
Reduce conflicts of interest by taking away power for auditor and rating agency selection from companies and placing it in the hands of the SEC to be administered on random assignment.
Implement a securities speculation tax, starting with derivatives, to deter casino-style capitalism.

You can vote for Obama or, if you are really into self-delusion, you can support McCain. But you owe it to yourself, even if you erroneously blame Nader for the election of George W. Bush, to remember these Nader reforms. Hold them up against the proposed reforms that will soon be issued by the McCain and Obama camps. If the Nader reforms are not adopted, if we bail out our corporate masters with hundreds of billions of tax dollars without instituting draconian market reform and launching criminal prosecution, we will be left to bear the cross of corporate malfeasance. We will pay for corporate crime. We will leave those who robbed us free to plunder.

Chris Hedges

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