Bucks County Herald

Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox

Distraction and desertion

While the nation was recently focused on the Comey testimony, the House passed the repeal of Dodd-Frank.

Hopefully, the Senate will stop it. The timing on the House vote wasn’t necessarily unplanned, indicative of subversive activity in our democracy.

Dodd-Frank is the replacement legislation for the previously ousted Glass-Steagall Act. After American banks failed in 1929, resulting in the Great Depression, it was passed to regulate their acquisitions. This was to regulate any losses, limiting risks and bailouts.

We can’t afford to forget those lessons we learned from the crash of 1929 and the devastation of the Great Depression that followed it. There’s a famous photograph showing four children sitting on a porch next to a sign which read, “Children for Sale.” That’s how bad it got. People were selling their kids because they couldn’t feed them, hoping whoever bought them would be kind … but who knew? Those situations could have been damaging, devastating or even deadly.

World War II, with every negative impact such a conflict could have, ironically helped put America back to work, and finished pulling us out of the depression. While we fought and recovered, under FDR, we were daring; we were marvelous. We wrote and enforced some of the strongest, most democratic laws to lift America up, and spread a bit of her great controlled and orchestrated wealth.

After the war, America hummed a bit, and we took aim at the risk of a crash like that from ever happening again. We did risk it, though, and do, every day because the ’70s ushered in the age of politics which allowed the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall anti-trust laws. It was slow and on the down-low, yet, it happened, gnawing at the foundation of the nation’s solubility.

In 2002, there were obvious rumbles of instability. Those were ignored, and the coups continued. The profits became so large that business entities couldn’t even camouflage their greed or government involvements; in short order, they didn’t even need to.

Deconstruction, and denying its impending doom, continued with much of our leadership either in collusion, denial, or futility. When we crashed in 2008, the rumble was far larger than that of 2002, and left far too many holding the bag, the empty bag. Promises, profits, private holdings, and imperative pensions went up in smoke. We were told they were “lost” to risky speculation. They weren’t lost. That convenient, contrived imagery was used to conjure a specter of finality. The billions of dollars would stay “lost” but really, though they were, indeed, lost by the many, they were definitely found by the few.

After that, the need for regulation couldn’t be denied, huge bail-outs cost Americans again, and Glass-Steagall was replaced by Dodd-Frank. The financial industry has been pulling at its underpinning since because it, like Glass-Steagall, regulates the financial risks banks can take that may subsequently require them to be bailed out with our tax dollars. However, the chipping continues and why not? If a casino lets a player keep his winnings but pays his losses, who would argue?

The people who lost their future, after a lifetime of paying into a system which, in exchange, was obligated to support them throughout old age, were abandoned without regard. The profiteers, who found great wealth in the crimes, yachted off into the sunset. A few companies paid fines at the time, far less than their gains, just for public distraction, but most paid nothing and no one served jail time. In fact, many found, high positions in our government administration were the reward for their illegal behavior – and the dish ran away with the spoon.

The job of a democratic government’s leadership is to pass the laws and maintain the regulations which stabilize the status of, and best care for, as many of its people as possible. Our job is to make sure they do their job.

Chatterbyte – Annual FERPA reiteration:
If you have a teen leaving for college, even if you’re paying the tuition, your child’s college may or may not provide you with information about his/her grades (and a few other things), even upon request. Check with your student’s school in advance. If you’re unsure, make two copies of a letter expressing your child’s permission for you to have their grades on request. Have both copies signed by your child in front of a notary. Keep one, and file one with your student’s college. You may also want to consider clearance on: class performance; campus, or legal, infractions; and any requests/referrals for psych assistance.

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