We are trying to rebuild our global economy after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. As we all know so well, this crisis was no economic accident, but rather was the fruit of an immoral financial sector, which put its own narrow greed ahead of the common good, and in doing so toppled the global economy and caused incalculable pain and misery. It was the fruit of a decades-long push to strip away all oversight of economic behavior, especially the financial sector – in opposition to the tenets of Catholic social teaching, in the supposed name of economic efficiency. It was the fruit of the financialization of the economy, where short-term gain mattered more than long-term sustainability, where success was severed from virtue, and where gambling and speculation took the place of true productivity. It was a decades-long false path, as we learned the hard way.
And now, as we seek to rebuild, as we seek to learn the lessons of the past, the Republicans have put forward a man who embodies the old model like nobody else – a man who rose to the top of his industry by aggressively seeking financial return at the expense of everything else, especially the priority of labor. A man whose policies would return whatever little power has been taken away from the financial sector, yield nothing to labor, and continue the upward redistribution of income started three decades ago through fiscal policy.
And with that upward redistribution of income comes the upward redistribution of political power. Look at the chart below and look at the facts. The finance industry is the biggest political donor this cycle – $318 million so far – and they give twice as much to Republicans as Democrats (a big shift from before Dodd-Frank). On top of that, they spent $600 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies to water down the Dodd-Frank Act. And Romney is their man. He is one of them. He supports what they support. Nearly a quarter of Romney’s “bundlers” are from the sector.
It’s quite amazing really. This is a sector that took down the global economy through nefarious behavior and was bailed out by taxpayers on the most favorable possible terms. Nobody was removed and nobody went to jail. And to express their gratitude for this largesse, the sector is now putting all its might behind overthrowing the president who bailed them out and getting rid of the minimal oversight and restrictions underlying the Dodd-Frank Act. And they are getting away with it – such is the depravity of the current American political system, where everything can be bought and sold, and values have no meaning beyond rhetoric.