Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Thoughts on Financial Reform, and What I Think We Won't Get (Like Real Reform and Real Leadership)

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a veteran of Wall Street, and we were talking about the need for reform. We stressed that those reforms will need to reflect the realities of the complex global economic systems and instruments that are with us now. I firmly believe that we have the intellectual capabilities within our country to resolve these issues; I just don't think that we have really tried. Unfortunately, we are stuck in a bizarre echo chamber that has deemed regulation and oversight as universally bad things, while simultaneously being led to believe that Wall Street had our (regular people) best interests, as opposed to their best interests, at heart. Check out Michael Lind's essay over at Salon for an interesting and quick recitation of our uniquely American versions of capitalism.

I started thinking more about the issue of Wall Street reform as I was reading the Vanity Fair article on the old Pecora Commission following the rise of FDR to the presidency. By the time I finished the article, I was convinced that we, Americans, are currently stuck with people who are either unwilling or unable to reign in the outright thievery that we've seen since the rise of Reagan. And I fully admit my culpability in this, because I was concerned about the progress of my 401(K) and hoped to make money on the market, just like millions of us. But, we are lacking in leadership from all sides here. This is one of the few areas where some liberals and some conservatives agree conceptually, and real leadership would be able to see that in this regard, siding with the American public is the right thing to do altogether (like with DADT).

We need another Pecora Commission, with similar teeth to it (a request made a bit ago). We need political leadership strong enough to withstand the clear push against reform from Wall Street. I am not so sure that the "Angelides Commission" will live up to its predecessor, if only because our government seems even more in bed with Wall Street than it seemed in the '30s. Only time will tell.

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