It's the political puzzle of our times: Why, in the wake of the most spectacular failure of free-enterprise in 80 years, was it the global right that became stronger, not the left?
In the 1930s, the last time capitalism failed so destructively, radical opposition movements won the day: Demanding both immediate aid for the Depression's suffering, but also bigger structural changes in the economy. Pressured by these radical forces, governments' response went well beyond "stimulus." Instead, government was given powerful, countervailing powers to offset the skewed dominance of business and wealth -- everything from unemployment insurance to stronger regulations (aimed especially at finance) to union-friendly labour laws.
We have created a Grassroots Movement called Redneck Party. We take our name from the "Redneck War" of 1921. Google it! My people marched with red bandannas tied around their necks so they wouldn't shoot each other. Seriously though, amidst being called commies they were some of the most courageous and valiant Patriots of their day.
There are likely few characters less loved in America these days than hedge fund managers -- widely regarded as among the arch villains of the 2008 Wall Street meltdown.
So, months ago, when Washington embarked on a frenzied search for ways to reduce the massive U.S. deficit, a tax loophole that allowed hedge fund managers to pay tax at the exceptionally low rate of 15 per cent certainly seemed like low-hanging fruit.
Cancelling the loophole would save the treasury $20 billion over 10 years, and the public would surely be unmoved by the pain inflicted on hedge fund managers -- the top 25 of whom took home an average pay last year of $880 million each.
The first time I heard of the Koch brothers, I was out for beer with some friends I hadn't seen since high school. We were sharing what we'd been up to, and one of them looked at me (the enviro) oddly as he said he now had his own company, but he'd been previously working for Koch Industries.
Intrigued, I asked him what Koch Industries did. He looked at me like I was a half-wit and said "Evil, man. That's what they do."
Anyone who follows the news knows that last month U.S. Congress Woman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson. Those who follow a lot of news also know that this incident has generated a lot of finger pointing and other reactions (some might say overreactions) from both sides of the political spectrum. Given the degree of polarization and lack of civil dialogue in the U.S. at the moment, none of this is surprising.
Before the smoke had even cleared in the shopping mall blame was being laid on the Tea Party and their ilk for creating a poisonous atmosphere in the country that led to this sort of violence. Of course the TP types struck back with all sorts of rationalizations as to why they were in no way to blame for something like this. That, of course, is a fantasy.