I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore

Peter Jackson
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Someone once described the difference between an American and an Irishman as follows: an American and an Irishman walk by a mansion.

The American says, "One day, I'm going to live in that mansion." The Irishman says, "One day, I'm going to burn that mansion to the ground."

Perhaps it's a silly stereotype - with only a flicker of veracity - but I've been feeling pretty Irish lately, despite my Welsh protestant lineage.

Since the worldwide economic collapse of 2008, there have been many flashpoints for anger against wealthy speculators who amassed billions at the expensive of ordinary folk.

These people are thieves on an unimaginable scale.

They rode a wave of deregulation, dogmatically preached and implemented by free market extremists at the highest levels of power - notably former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

In the decade leading up to 2008, these financiers conjured an imaginary web of profits out of thin air, based on outlandish speculation. Hundreds of billions of dollars existed only on paper. They conjured deals based on perceived value of future investments.

In some cases, they even wagered both for and against the success of those investments.

Having constructed this massive chimera of wealth, they sucked real money out of the real economy to pay themselves obscenely fat bonuses. When the mirage finally vanished, ordinary citizens were left holding the bag - foreclosed homes, empty accounts, worthless stocks and a decimated job market.

This sequence of events has been analyzed and re-analyzed ad nauseum over the past three years. There is little doubt who the culprits are, and how despicable their actions were.

In a just world, the majority of them would be thrust behind bars for a long, long time.

But there's a problem.

The problem is that in this day and age, the untethered, unregulated hoarding of perverse amounts of wealth is not only tolerated, but encouraged, admired and tirelessly facilitated.

Corporations and their backers exert enormous pressure on governments to loosen rules and reduce tax burdens.

Why should we finance a proportionately larger share of society's well-being, they ask - as if they owe nothing for the privilege of reaping huge fortunes at the pleasure of the populations they exploit. As if the market were merely some traceless treasure in a Persian cave.

The West owes its prosperity to the pursuit of capital. Of that there is little doubt.

Open-market competition has proven an effective way to accommodate the innate forces of human greed in a controlled fashion.

But greed is not a virtue.

It cannot reign unchecked.

It must be monitored and regulated. And anyone who argues otherwise is living in a dreamland.

Radical corporatism must be challenged - challenged as diligently as one would confront any ideology bent on reshaping the world into some twisted vision of utopia.

Such "visionaries" must be discredited, mocked and exposed. None more so than News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, who uses his vast media empire to lie, distort and obfuscate the truth as a means to further the radical corporatist agenda (an agenda masked by forever waging battle against an imaginary left-wing bogeyman).

The meltdown of 2008 - and our ongoing economic woes- prove beyond a doubt these ideas are, unchecked, a recipe for economic anarchy.

They threaten the very fabric of everything modern participatory democracies have achieved. And if they continue to prevail, we are undone.

I'm not about to burn down any mansions. But to say I've become perturbed at this new reign of reckless greed and thievery is putting it lightly.

And I'm hardly alone.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. Email: pjackson@thetelegram.com.


Organizations: U.S. Federal Reserve, News Corp

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Recent comments

  • You have a right to be Mad as Hell
    July 21, 2011 - 12:51

    "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" says Peter Jackson The Telegram columnist and author of this column. My fellow Newfoundlander and Labradorian you have the right to be mad as hell and so does every other person on this Globe over what has transpired in the corruption of all of our Capitalist Systems over the past 30 years. We have seen the corruption being allowed through deregulation by Governments in every sector and system that we had come to respect, from the Banking Institutions to the Health Care systems and it seemed liked there was ABSOLUTELY Nothing we could do about watching those systems through corruption, because NOBODY listened when we spoke up. But now that all Systems have been brought to their knees in what I and others refer to as a Depression that we have to somehow recover from, every last one of us needs to speak up and make those responsible to introduce honesty and integrity into the systems. If the ordinary citizen remains silent we are doomed to grow the same corrupt systems all over again and face the calamity we faced in October 2008 repeated over and over. We have to make our politicians listen and become honest. It all evolves from those we elect to govern matters and they have been pretty corrupt over the years in all of the governments in the Capitalistic systems. Capitalist societies like to think their above the law and the most elite of socieities, but they differ very little from the Dictatorial systems they despise. The only difference between both of these systems is that in the Capitalist system we can speak out against matters, but what does that matter when Nobody listens to the words spoken, with regard to correcting the corruption that we have seen swirling around us over the years that brought the systems to their knees.

  • Carl
    July 21, 2011 - 10:02

    There are some serious flaws in your logic, Peter. First, Rupert Murdoch himself has not been accused or investigated, let alone charged or convicted, of any offence. Second, the accusations against reporters employed by Murdoch's newspapers have nothing to do with "lying" or "distorting the truth" to "further the radical corporatist agenda." Rather, they are accused of using illegal means to access true information. And third, it is obviously wrong to say that such behaviour is "unregulated" or "unchecked." It is in fact illegal, and the perpetrators are not only being "discredited, mocked and exposed", but also charged under criminal law. So although it is perfectly reasonable to be angry toward people who commit such crimes, it makes no sense whatsoever to say our system supports their behaviour. Clearly, the legal system and society as a whole are responding exactly as you say they should.

  • Peter these people sure were thieves
    July 20, 2011 - 20:29

    Peter said: "These people are thieves on an unimaginable scale. They rode a wave of deregulation, dogmatically preached and implemented by free market extremists at the highest levels of power - notably former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan". And don't forget Peter the politicians of governments we elected lent their ears to the Lobbyists of the Corporations, they allowed themselves to be influenced by these Lobbyists and they handed over our natural resources on a silver platter to them. It was also the politicians who deregulated all the systems, which led the way to unbridled capitalism run solely by crooks who thought up all sorts of schemes and scams which our financial institutions bought into and which ironically brought down the banking system in October 2008. After the 2008 collapse when interviewed by a Congressional panel Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted he was wrong on many fronts and he should have regulated the finacial markets.

  • james
    July 20, 2011 - 20:02

    and don,t think the ride is over yet european union is falling apart, the usa is that far in the hole it makes europe look good, better hold on tight

  • dontgetmestarted
    July 20, 2011 - 14:15

    The only honest way to get rich is to win a lottery- and sometimes that is suspect too.

  • Cathy
    July 20, 2011 - 11:07

    Corporations = Psychopaths. And psychopaths are the bane of our species.

  • I Agree Peter with your thoughts
    July 20, 2011 - 10:44

    Peter, I agree! I don't know about you, but what Robert Murdoch allowed his newspapers to do was a parallel to what the Globe and Mail allowed columnist Margaret Wente to do when she wrote an article debasing and debauching public life in which she maligned every Newfoundlander and Labradorian while doing so. Not once did Ms. Wente mentioned the fact that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were critically undermined by the fact that their vast natural resource base was shipped out of our province to grow vibrant economies everywhere else in Canada, except for their own province. Also Peter you mentioned that radical corporatism must be challenged. You are right on that account as well, but I am very much afraid what is coming down the pipeline with the CETA Movement - Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement , radical corporatism will be advanced greatly when this treaty comes into effect with the European Union. The EU are looking to do business with every layer of our Canadian Government and they want to be able to bid on any and all contracts in our system. The EU want their rights to be backed up with an iron-clad insurance policy to guard against expropriation if matters don't work out, like what happened in the Abitibi-Bowaters case. The EU also wants the right to fish inside of our 200 mile limit right up to our doorsteps in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now if this gets ratified and it seems that Ottawa is on sideto do so, how are we every going to contend with that in our province of Newfoundland and Labrador? We have very little say, if any now, well then after CETA is ratified there will be less. So how are we going to counteract this malignant movement? I don't hear our Premier or her MHAs broaching this subject and it is very critical that she do so.