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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/14/10

The Return of Madcap Capitalism

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Later that month, one of BP's deep-sea-drilling oil rigs exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and endangering the coasts of Louisiana and other states with a massive oil spill that remained out of control three weeks later.

In a political atmosphere where Republicans had not long ago chanted "drill, baby, drill" and President Obama had acquiesced to more offshore drilling the rig was one of many that had been allowed to operate in deeper and deeper waters with lax regulation and without adequate safeguards.

Essentially, the Bush administration had trusted the oil industry to "self-regulate."

On May 6, the dangers of madcap capitalism resurfaced again on Wall Street. A combination of factors, including computerized trades that flitted from exchange to exchange as prices dove, precipitated a near-1,000-point drop in the Dow. Some blue-chip stocks lost almost their entire value in a matter of minutes before humans could intervene.

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Many small investors with computer-triggered "stop-loss" orders (the kind advertised by E-Trade's talking baby who says in one ad that the techno-system saved him "a pant load" while he was away at a Las Vegas bachelor party) saw their shares sold at sharply discounted prices (costing many of those investors "a pant-load").

New suspicions surfaced that Wall Street insiders had figured out yet one more way to game the system against the small investors.

Yet, all these examples of madcap capitalism unnecessary deaths of workers, environmental catastrophes, dangerous stock speculation and scammed investors have failed to generate a new national consensus for a broader government intervention in the economy.

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Instead, with the right-wing and most mainstream news outlets still sniggering about the incompetence of government, the political tide continues to flow toward a likely Republican resurgence in November.

In effect, that would put back in charge the very forces that did the most to create the Great Recession and other disasters. Presumably, the nation would begin hearing new GOP demands for more deregulation, more tax cuts and less of a government role in restraining madcap capitalism.

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at
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