September 17, 2008
This is just a snippet from Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s clear and compelling explanation of how Bush, Greenspan and the Wall Street usurers drove our economy over a cliff — and what we ought to do about it. But of course won’t.
…We need better competition laws. The financial institutions have been able to prey on consumers through credit cards partly because of the absence of competition. But even more importantly, we should not be in situations where a firm is “too big to fail.” If it is that big, it should be broken up…
Posted by Jerome Doolittle at September 17, 2008 03:20 PM
Not only should nobody be allowed to be too big to fail; I'd also like to see corporations sunsetted in all but exceptional circumstances.
The obvious problem with this formulation is like that with the Roman definition of dictator, an unchecked leader with a six-month mandate. Of course it wasn't long before circumstances appeared, or were created, that forced the extension of the powers. Pretty soon you had private armies, eventually leading to Octavian, later titled Augustus, at the head of forty-five veteran legions whose salaries were paid by his family.
As Thorsten Veblen points out, legal and financial strife has largely, though incompletely, replaced physical strife in modern tribes like ours. But the viciousness and frequent uselessness remains. Russell says we live with an ethic of competition in a situation that requires coöperation, and we're not at this point trying to improve on that. Americans have to give up every-man-for-himself.
God help us, we're bound to follow the stream of time to socialism.