There was a time when a good citizen, who blew the whistle on an impending crime, or a crime in progress, would get a bit of public praise and recognition, perhaps, a picture in the paper or an interview, a handshake from a public official, and a chance to say why he or she had seen a crime coming which others had missed and had been impelled to speak out.
Last July 2nd, in Counterpunch, Ralph Nader described a robbery about to happen and blew the whistle. In “Economic Domino Theory, Greed without Accountability,” Nader warned readers that Americans were about to be robbed of the future value of their dollars by financial institutions, corporations, both unregulated and out of control. Here is an excerpt:
“Today, there is no real momentum in a frozen Washington, D.C. to bring regulation up to date. To the contrary, in 1999, Congress led by Senator McCain’s Advisor, former Senator Phil Gramm and the Clinton Administration led by Robert Rubin, Secretary of the Treasury, and soon to join Citibank,(ed note: and, later, the Obama campaign as its financial advisor) de-regulated and ended the wall between investment banks and commercial banking known as the Glass-Steagall Act.
Clinton and Congress opened the floodgates to rampant speculation without even requiring necessary and timely disclosures for the benefit of institutional and individual investors.
Now the entire U.S. economy is at risk. The domino theory is getting less theoretical daily. Without investors obtaining more legal authority as owners over their out of control company officers and Boards of Directors, and without strong regulation, corporate capitalism cannot be saved from its toxic combination of endless greed and maximum power—without responsibility.
Uncle Sam, the deeply deficit ridden bailout man, may have another taxpayers-to-the-rescue operation for Wall Street. But don’t count on stretching the American dollar much more without devastating consequences to and from global financial markets in full panic.
Consider the U.S. dollar like an elastic band. You can keep stretching this rubber band but suddenly it BREAKS. Our country needs action NOW from Washington, D.C.”
As you read Ralph Nader’s July 2nd warning, perhaps for the first time, the terms of the largest bankers’ robbery of America’s wealth are being hammered out by the bankers and those who neglected to regulate them. Nader’s call to action was not picked up by major media. Censorship of Nader is not too strong a word. But that the crime is occurring before our eyes and that its impact will be massive and long-lasting is now certain.
In their public statements, the two major party Presidential candidates and their corporate advisors scramble to avoid blame. On Friday next, these two candidates will debate. The good citizen who warned of the impending crime, (who is also a Presidential candidate), has not been invited. According to the debate commission, funded by the two major parties, the rules don’t allow it. But, given his uniquely prescient warning to America, shouldn’t he be allowed to say a few words about the crime?
Perhaps Nader could explain how he saw the crime unfolding and leave it to candidates Obama and McCain to explain why they didn’t. Or, more importantly, Obama and McCain could explain how each proposes to deal with its aftermath. While they missed predicting the crime, as Nader did not, they can now predict its impact on us and on future generations of Americans.
This small involvement for Nader in the scheduled national debates would amount to a small reward for Nader and, perhaps, an incentive for other citizens to speak up when they see crimes about to happen, be they street crimes or corporate. What a pleasant return to the civil habits of yesteryear when citizen whistleblowers were admired and not ignored?
STEVE CONN is a retired professor of justice at the University of Alaska, and former director of Alaska Public Interest Research Group. He lived in Alaska from 1972 to 2007 and is now based in Point Roberts, Wash. He recently helped collect more than 5,900 signatures from Alaskan voters to put Ralph Nader on the 2008 Alaska Presidential ballot. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.