SIMPLETON ECONOMIC RECOVERY

I started this new phase of my ranting with the proclamation that I’m not an economist. So while I may have some cred on the issues of the health care disaster by dint of my decades of working in and observing first-hand the deficiencies of that system, one can rightly question my authority in the greater arena of the national and world economy. Still, I have more than a half-century of observation under my slightly more generous belt and can state with some assurance that the trained experts in the field have done little, if anything, to predict or avert the current and ongoing disaster. In fairness, had they foreseen it all and paraded in the streets of the capital with a megaphone it’s uncertain that our ruling class would have been able to hear over the din of the lobbyists and special interests.

So I’ll approach this the way I’ve done for the health care debacle. I’ve laid out what I see as a few fundamental areas that must change for us to even begin to heal, and in my next few rants I’ll hazard an approach on achieving it.

First, I’d revamp the so-called anti-monopoly laws to prohibit the existence of any entity deemed “too big to fail,” and certainly limit the government’s ability to distribute our tax dollars to rescue a fallen behemoth. It seems to me that if a business is stifling competition, it’s too big, and if its demise cannot be absorbed by our economy, it’s too big. (I suppose the same could be said about our federal government, but that’s fodder for future rants.)

Second, I’d tie the salaries of upper-echelon management in publicly held companies, including CEOs, to the success of the entities they’re supposed to be heading. No more guarantees or “golden parachutes” regardless of performance. Let’s call that what it is—racketeering. As an aid to limiting corruption, a salary and bonus cap that’s a large multiple of the lowest paid employee might be considered. Such a system wouldn’t limit compensation or discourage ambition or innovation, just constrain abuse.

Any legislation may fall prey to the law of unintended consequences, so crafting regulations that protect the free market, capitalist culture without ham-stringing it requires a thoughtful, level-headed approach. Do we have that kind of a brain trust in Washington? Events to date haven’t been encouraging. But if we don’t find the will and the people to do it, the most promising experiment in human decency the world has ever seen will become a footnote in human history.

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