A Book Review Of Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State By Ralph Nader.
Ralph Nader’s new book may be the most important of the year. Unlike the usual beltway pundit, he grasps the essential nature of the joint outrage of liberals and conservatives at the crony capitalism that has gripped Washington under the likes of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. While these three men differ on almost every issue, they are united in their subservient to Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and the other titans of Wall Street.
Income inequality, Nader argues, is an essential by-product — if not the goal — of policies that enrich the favored few who spread their campaign contributions to the establishments of both parties. Their return on this investment goes to the core of how the Federal Reserve treats them.
Once, the Fed was there to safeguard the currency against inflation. Then, in the Full Employment Act of 1947, its mandate grew to fighting joblessness. Now, in the era of quantitative easing, it has abandoned both missions in favor of pumping money to Wall Street (until recently $85 billion/month) to sustain and grow the stock market bubble. Its goal, very simply, is to enrich its friends on Wall Street and keep its allies in power in Congress and the White House.
These Wall Street abuses have united the Tea Party with the Occupy Wall Streeters. In Unstoppable, Nader explores their common ground.
He begins by identifying their common enemy: the Democratic and Republican coalition with Wall Street that aims all federal policy at enriching the verify top of the income spectrum.
He explains how their alliance
• Keeps money flowing to the biggest banks to fund their speculation
• Assures that when their irresponsible bets on derivatives and such go bad, the taxpayer will bail them out
• Funds every sort of tax break for special interests, keeping rates so high on less favored businesses that it slows economic growth
• Increases government regulation of community banks, so that they cannot afford to survive and are forced to merge with the big banks.
• Turns a blind eye to China’s currency manipulation that so brings down the cost of their products that they are de-industrializing America.
• Encourages Americans to go into deep debt to fund the corporate economy, colleges, and home builders, leaving them financially disabled and dependent on government charity.
• Encourages a permanent war economy and the profits that accrue to big businesses and defense contractors.
• Maintain the perverse incentives of the welfare state to keep people in poverty so they qualify for government largesse.
• Keep mega-corporations like General Motors going even as they outsource jobs to other countries and build unsafe cars.
In Unstoppable, Nader goes back to the leading conservative thinkers of our age — Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman (with a dash of Adam Smith thrown in for seasoning) — to show how the ideas that underscore convergence have their roots in classical conservative thought.
Nader has his blind spots. He does not seem to realize that public employee unions have turned against the poor they were supposed to serve, advancing the privileges of their members over the needs of their clients. He also does not grasp that immigration is taking away the jobs of blue collar Americans. (Since 2000, the number of employed native born Americans has dropped by 100,000 while the rolls of employed immigrants — legal and illegal — have risen by 5.6 million (from Center for Immigration Studies).
But Nader gets it mostly right. Let’s close with a quote from Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs: “Praise the U.S. for accepting a higher unemployment rate, even as it bailed out the banks.”
Need we say more?
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