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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/28/12

Dylan Ratigan: "Six Sectors of the US Economy Badly in Need of Restructuring"

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Dylan Ratigan's six sectors of the US economy needing fundamental restructuring, as laid out in his new best seller, Greedy Bastards and also at his book's web site :

1)   banking and finance, which he defines as having become "extractionists" rather than the useful capitalists they were;   

2)   the military-industrial complex, now larger and more costly than all other military forces in the world combined;

3)   the health industry, including insurance, pharmaceuticals, for-profit hospitals, fee-for-service doctors and other providers;  

4)   global corporations pushing rigged trade agreements, off-shoring US jobs and hiding their profits in offshore tax-havens (including GE which owns NBC and MSNBC, Caterpillar, Wal-Mart, John Deere, automakers, etc.);  

5)   the energy sector built on waste and perpetuated by huge government subsidies to coal, oil, gas and nuclear and profiting from externalizing its costs, from pollution, safety violations, etc.;  

6)   transportation based on wasteful automobiles, starving mass-transit and creating unsustainable suburban sprawl and unhealthy cities.  

Ratigan also cites the communications, entertainment and mainstream media which dumb down and misinform voters, which are driven by commercial advertising that distorts issues, denies clear debate on vital issues and is now reaping huge profits from the unlimited political advertising encouraged by the Supreme Court.     

Lastly, Ratigan examines the US education industry, rising tuition in the older non-profit elite universities and the rise of for-profit colleges run by companies traded on stock exchanges.   Students are enticed into debt traps, in which they are saddled with unmanageable debts, and are then faced with an economy in which there are ever fewer jobs available that actually provide the kind of income that can allow them to pay off said loans.   

What Ratigan describes is simply the need for a kind of whole-system transition, as all countries are now linked in a form of globalization driven by finance, economics and technologies whose impacts have produced many unforeseen and negative as well as positive consequences.   Futurists have studied these trends for decades and have come to many similar conclusions re: the need for whole-system re-structuring.   The reforms Ratigan proposes are reasonable and widely discussed around the world -- even if not so much in the USA.   They are even on the agenda at the G-20 and the upcoming summit Rio+20 in Brazil, June 20-22, 2012.   

Reforms still needed to downsize the global financial bubble include breaking up TBTF banks, a global financial transactions tax of less than 1% to reduce speculation and high-frequency trading, reinstating a new "Glass-Steagall" law to separate and protect retail deposit banking, raising capital requirements and trading margins while putting all derivatives on exchanges.     

Ratigan discusses all this along with the need to prosecute those who precipitated the financial mess.   He might well have included corporate agribusiness and the few companies -- Monsanto, Conagra, Archer-Daniels Midland -- that control much of the world's food as well as those who process and market it:   Pepsi, Coca-cola, Unilever, Kraft, fast food chains, etc.   Then too there are the implications as regards the unhealthy diets and personal eating habits that stem from these companies and their billions of dollars of annual advertising & marketing.   

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)

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