You learn something new every day.
Unfortunately, these days, it seems like I’m not learning anything that really makes me feel good. At first, I thought it was me. But the more I read, the more I learn, the more disillusioned I become, the more I realize it is the world around me and I’m just reacting the way any sane person would.
This excellent article in The Week is a perfect example.
It turns out that one of the big drivers behind our faltering infrastructure in this country is the deregulation of the banking industry and the total Vegas-esque free-for-all that is the investment sector of the economy.
Because of the disproportionate growth of the financial sector, money is no longer flowing to infrastructure or R & D investment. In its simplest terms, the Wild West Wall Street investors are looking for short-term profits. Investment in infrastructure and R & D is a long-term investment in the future.
To quote the article:
The deregulation of the financial sector — promoted by Republican and Democratic administrations — has changed America from an economy focused on sustainable growth toward a free-for-all for the wealthy.
This change is called "financialization." The financial sector has grown to almost 8 percent of GDP, from about 4 percent in Reagan's time. That the financial sector has grown isn't necessarily a problem; what is a problem is that it has grown faster than the rest of the economy. The purpose of the financial sector is to facilitate investment in a wide array of activities — to grease the wheels of the economy, so to speak. If the rest of the economy doesn't grow along with the financial sector, it is not fulfilling that purpose.
So, instead of money flowing to things like building/repairing bridges and roads and sewer systems that create good middle class jobs (which raises the ability of the masses to consume which helps grow the economy), money is being gambled back and forth at the Wall Street craps table where all the money goes back into the pockets of the gamblers.
Oh, and the occasional hooker.
When you combine that with the historically low taxes on this type of income and the growing wealth and income disparity, cities and states no longer have the cash (or financing) available to keep our roads from crumbling from beneath our feet.
There is more to this story than that, but that is the gist. Not only did the tax payers have to bail out the “too big to fail” banks, but now they are back to screwing us so that they can make even more profit.
We have to put some common sense back into our economy. The richest among us should be taxed at a much higher rate, Wall Street needs to be regulated, and investment in infrastructure, in our country's future, should be rewarded.
It seems so simple when I say it out loud, but it doesn't make me feel any better.