WE THE PEOPLE: Change Will Come – Week of December 8

Life is its own journey, it presupposes its own change andmovement, and one tries to arrest them at one’s eternalperil.

Nine percent of Americans approve of the way Congress acts and thatrating will plummet lower. We the people need significant andsubstantial change to the way our government operates, but ourlawmakers will not propose any change that has a chance ofrealization.

Republicans propose changes: lower health care benefits forworkers, lower salaries for workers and lower taxes for thewealthy. They realize that inflexibility on these points guaranteesinaction in Congress and that is something with which they arecomfortable.

They play a game of reasonableness; everyone must give in a little,but they never give in from positions which protect the wealthy andthe corporations who finance their political careers. A Pfizer Inc.patent on a popular anti-cholesterol drug recently expired and thatmedicine which cost an individual with a prescription plan $30 amonth, now is on sale for $10 a month!

All the years of research and development investment wererecaptured decades ago but this drug giant can charge what theyplease and the United States cannot use its market power or attemptto bargain with them for an affordable price.

Since action like bargaining with pharmaceutical companies orlowering drug costs only helps consumers and taxpayers, politiciansin Washington, D.C. do not get things done. These citizens do notdonate millions of dollars to finance television electioncampaigns.


Bloomberg News recently successfully sued to have Federal ReserveBank information released concerning details of the bank bailout in2009-2009. Bankers lobbied Congress to ease lending regulations andthen turned to the Fed for a combined $1.2 trillion in free creditbecause their profitable but ridiculous lending policies spawned areal estate speculation bubble which finally burst.

The free credit that they were extended was not revealed to thepublic or to lawmakers and it enabled them to reap at least $13billion in profit off of those Fed loans. Members of the FederalReserve Bank were unaware of the magnitude of the money the centralbank loaned to our largest lending institutions. According to thereport, loans, guarantees and increased credit limits to certainbanks totaled $7.7 trillion as of March, 2009.

Of course, the beneficiaries of taxpayer welfare like JP MorganChase and Bank of America sanguinely told the public and investorsthat they were sound and stable institutions worthy of support. Ifthe federal government was willing to give that much to certainbanks, why couldn’t a few billion more be squeezed to save LehmanBrothers, which employed hundreds of New Yorkers.

Meanwhile Republicans, including Congressmember Michael Grimm,clamor for deregulation of financial institutions! If the sameeffort to help banks and brokers could be directed to compromisingon spending and taxation, perhaps we would have a sound fiscalpolicy in place on which to build an economic future for all thecitizens of this nation.

Corporations are not citizens! A multi-year economic plan withincreased income tax for wealthy individuals and corporations and ameans test for Social Security benefits should be a lynchpin forour future fiscal policy. One way or another, change in ourpolicies will come despite the action or inaction of our electedofficials.

Brian Kieran is a community activist who works for the State ofNew York and is a Democrat.

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