It has been nearly three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the related malfeasance of Lehman and other Wall Street firms. Hank Paulson has admitted Lehman's balance sheet was bogus. According to Robert Reich, Goldman Sacks helped Greece hide its public debt and then bet against it with credit default swaps, those risky derivatives, in the news so much in 2007-2009, to avoid risking its own capital. If you think the scenario is familiar, think AIG. By any stretch of the imagination, these overpaid and overfed hacks and flacks should have been left to suffer the consequences, stripped of their wealth and in prison. Why hasn't this happened? We have waited and waited for economic reform we can believe in, which Wall Streeters are fighting tooth and nail. We've been told that we can't have the meaningful reform we crave, that we must accept "bipartisan" compromise. The GOP slings its empty "free market" bull (bull, because they never actually mean a free market, but rather a rigged market, in practice). Then they blame an administration inheriting the effects of their party's utter lack of fiscal stewardship. Now they fight reform to fix it and assure proposed re-regulation is toothless. And of course, it's everyone's fault but their own. The faux-helpless foxes at the SEC guarded the hen house then. Even our own side has acted fairly helpless in the face of so many misdeeds. Should the administration not use the tools and methods available to it, it will deserve later scrutiny and judgment. I reserve judgment for the time being. However, as Reich observes, it turns out that we do not need "reform" to do something about it.
April inches ever closer to the dreaded anniversary. The regional paper for our area began its opine this way: "As if Blacksburg and Virginia Tech have not endured enough in recent years..." Yes, as if... We relive that day every time the emergency alert system is tested. We relive it nearly every day our loved ones go to work or class. They relive it every time they walk past Norris Hall, or the Drill Field Memorial. They relive it when nut-cases send them hate mail, or when, recently, an internet psychopath threatened the campus once again. (It turned out to be sourced in a distant land, but not without stirring up much anxiety.) They relived it when right-wing pols tried to use these events for political opportunism to turn their sites on the academy, teachers who work long hours year after year so that their students may learn. Some (such as Phylis Schlafly and Lynn Cheney's anti-faculty organization) did that following the original April 16th horror. They blamed the victims. So did talk show hosts and television "evangelists," whom I will not name here. Their names get far too much play already.
No, we need no annual reminder because it never goes completely away. For the families of the victims, life is forever changed. In such matters it would be appropriate to extend sympathy and support toward the victims. That's what most people do. But not the psychopathic fringe minority. Each year, for all the wealth of positive support and good will, comes a reminder of the kind of hate that brought us to this point, the kind of hate that caused all of this in the first place. Now we have learned that one of the primary national architects of hate will be here this April: The infamous, so-called Rev. Fred Phelps and his shrieking Westboro "Baptist Church" accomplices.
In the 1960s my father-in-law provided health insurance for employees of his small business. Little did we know how ahead of his time he was. A survey by the Small Business Majority found that even today only 46% of small business owners provide health insurance, but 76% of them struggle meeting their premiums. The 54% who do not provide coverage say they cannot afford it. Let me pause here: The majority of small business owners do not provide health insurance for their employees. It is their employees who most likely are caught in private individual plans which get slammed over and over and which get canceled at the drop of a hat. Some companies drive up the cost of policies solely to induce "high risk" patients to drop their policies. It is clear that both individuals and small businesses need both relief and reform.