Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Perils of a Deregulated Market - A Garish Reminder

It's been nearly a century since the last time class conflict reared its head in the US in a major way. As a nation, though we still feel the psychological repercussions of The Great Depression, most don't remember the union busting activities of the era, the role that the Pinkerton agency played in all of that, and just how tumultuous a time it was for the country. Some would argue that it was the unfettered and open free market that led to both the Dickensian corporate practises of the times, as well as the violent repercussions.

It proved to be a necessary revolution, for out of these bloody times, there emerged the 5-day 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, and the strengthening of unions in the workplace.

Somewhere along the way those lessons were forgotten, however, leading to a frenzy of de-regulation that took place over the last 30 years, and enacted in order to create massive profits in the private sector. It should be noted that politicians on both sides ended up embracing de-regulation (though some more fervently than others). The end result is obvious; leaving aside the massive economic breakdown that we've been experiencing this year, the chasm between the upper and lower classes has probably not been wider since the beginning of the Industrial Age.

Perhaps someone should remind the proponents of the radical free market of the violent protests that could take place on our very shores should the chasm be allowed to grow wider still.

Frankly, we're already on the precipice, and it's only a matter of time before people stop lashing out at each other and pinpoint exactly where the source of most of their troubles lay.

Consider this a public service announcement.


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