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Dudley Wells, Published February 02 2012

Use of economic power to squelch political voices erodes democracy

In her opinion in the Jan. 23 Forum, Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, generously admitted that capitalism in this country has serious problems. Then she extolled the virtues of the free-market system and dutifully parroted the GOP party mantra – lower taxes, limited government and less regulation.

I think the free-market system shares many of the attributes of the Eurasian unicorn, and I have no idea how the changes suggested by the GOP could possibly improve the mercenary behavior of capitalists in this country.

The recent crash of the stock market and resulting damage to the economy cost Americans roughly $15 trillion in lost wealth. For decades the banking and finance industry lobbied Congress to unload the regulations slapped on them after the 1929 stock market crash. When they succeeded in 1996, it took their greed and recklessness barely 10 years to precipitate another severe stock market crash.

These capitalists proved beyond a shred of doubt that they cannot regulate themselves, and the American people should be screaming for re-regulation by their government.

An incredible amount of money from wealthy businesses and individuals now bloats our American political system in the form of lobbying expenses and ever-increasing campaign donations. Lately the Koch brother oil tycoons and their capitalist friends have been sponsoring organizations such as ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, which aggressively distributes pre-written laws to most state legislatures, pushing for things like strict voter identification and elimination of public employee bargaining rights.

This is a deliberate and sophisticated attempt by these would-be plutocrats to destroy their political opposition. If this misuse of economic power to control our political system continues unchallenged, I foresee a future in which we have nothing remotely like democracy in this nation.