Your government is hard at work |

Your government is hard at work

The common wisdom is that our government serves the people, and that it works for our well-being. But how true is this idealistic view? Lets look at a few examples, like our tax laws, the current mortgage crisis, the 1989 Savings and Loan scandal, the 2003 Medicare Bill, and the 2005 Energy Bill.Since 2000, our tax laws have cut taxes on the wealthy by $1.68 trillion serving the same people who underwrite political campaigns. The combination of these tax cuts and the profligate spending on Bushs war in Iraq has driven the national debt from $6 trillion to well over $9 trillion. Instead of paying for his war by raising taxes, Bush has cut them, creating deficits he put on the cuff, passing the burden on to coming generations.As a result of its laissez-faire attitude, your government turned a blind eye on abuses in the mortgage market, in which banks lured financially strapped borrowers into the trap of adjustable-rate mortgages, and then rolled these questionable mortgages into tainted packages, which they sold to investment institutions, who in turn marketed them as securities.A lot of money was made all up and down the line, except for the victims who had been duped into signing on to adjustable-rate mortgages, and those who ended up holding the bad debts. Your government at work responded to this crisis by extending $200 billion of taxpayer-financed credit to Wall Street banks, essentially bailing out the big guys with your money by piling still more onto the national debt. It was these same Wall Street interests who had used campaign contributions to block anti-predatory-lending legislation and to repeal a law that regulated how banks could buy and sell securities.The same kind of government negligence during the senior Bushs presidency brought on the 1989 Savings and Loan scandal (in which his son, Neil, was implicated), with $300 million of your money going to bail out the S & L industry.In 2003, your government abdicated its responsibility to the American people by pretty much allowing the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to draft a Medicare Bill that guaranteed them continued high profits. A few years later, several congressmen who had played key roles in passage of the bill had been rewarded with million-dollar-a-year jobs in those industries.As we all know, the 2005 Energy Bill was framed (and so were we) in secret meetings between Vice-president Dick Cheney and his accomplices in the oil business. Not surprisingly, it continued business as usual, granting the industry lavish subsidies and virtually ignoring energy conservation and development of alternate sources of energy.The past several years have been a win-win time for the wealthy, who have reaped all the benefits of increased productivity (while the average worker has been losing ground), and who at the same time have had tax rates on their huge income gains reduced.Yes, your government does work for the people, but for only some of the people those who play the game. The president and members of Congress are de facto employees of the wealthy interests, who lavish large campaign contributions and other financial favors on them. The wealthy pay these employees well, and let them know what they are expected to do in return. Will Rogers had it right we have the best government money can buy.Hal Sundins column appears every other Thursday in the Post Independent.

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