Friday, March 28, 2008

Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic

It's funny how, each time there's a national crisis, the Bush admin invents a new bureaucracy and/or consolidates old departments, but nothing useful ever gets done. As with new plans to re-organize the finacial regulatory bureaucracy. The problem isn't that there aren't the right federal agencies. The problem is that, thanks to the efforts of the relentless right-wing propaganda machine, there is a national attitude against regulating the rich and greedy (not to be redundant). The current financial mess could have been avoided by exercising prudent regulatory and legislative control using existing government structures. It does not require a new federal bureacucracy to:

* repeal the tax change that allows people to sell their primary residence tax free every two years, a change which helped fuel the real estate boom that is now going bust. Retain the change that allows a one-time tax-free sale for retirement-age homeowenrs.

* reinstate higher tax rates for the rich, who now pay only a tiny amount of their income in taxes

* reinstate higher short-term capital gains rates, thereby discouraging stock market gamblers and encouraging long-term investors

* conbsider repealing the mortgage tax deduction and replacing it with a housing allowance deduction that would apply to renters and home owners equally.

* repeal rules allowing brokerage houses to act as banks

* establish national standards for licensing of mortgage lenders and brokers

* outlaw mortgage advertising that only shows monthly payments based on a ridiculously low teaser rate. This sleazy practice is still going on -- as I write this, there are thousands of ads on the internet claiming to provide mortgages for unbelievably low rates. Why are these ads still allowed to exist after all the damage they have caused already?

* outlaw preditory practices by credit card companies, including zero-percent teaser rates designed to get you to transfer balances which then cause all new charges to be subject to a much higher finance rate until the zero balance is paid off

* re-establish consumer protection from usurious credit card rates

* appoint a new FCC chairman who will stop selling out the public's interests to the highest bidder, ie stop allowing media conglomerates, which then dominate public discourse with conservaive propaganda

* pass strict campaign financing laws, completely outlawing contributions to political campaigns by anyone except indivudal human beings. No organizational contributions. Period.

Well, that would be a start anyhow!