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SPOTLIGHT
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Taking a crack at the economic nutshell

Published on -7/26/2013, 9:36 AM

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I read with some dismay the July 23 column by Sen. Jerry Moran, expressing his concern for community bankers with its overtones appealing to a collective fear of this convoluted economy.

It's easy pickings, isn't it? When some or another massive conundrum shakes up the economy we watch and listen and it isn't long before the jargon, so carefully constructed to be incomprehensible, has shot past our fathom. We get to hope somebody knows what's really going on and can straighten it out.

In his column, Moran doesn't address exactly what costs are so insurmountable for the banks. These kinds of generalizations are suspect. A bank might go under in Missouri and we can expect all the rest to follow it into the hole, because the bank would spend too much to comply with Dodd-Frank, and evidently, will not abide a dent in its bottom line. The story isn't told to flatter, certainly. If compliance puts a bank under, something else in management needs to be addressed.

Is it possible to address greed directly, or do we dance around the impertinent attitudes of the power elite who created this messy economy?

Somebody's hand is in my wallet every day. Yours, too. Some of those expenditures we make of our own volition, the mundane elements we all take for granted like electric and water services. For the most part, we keep our lives together, lights on, premiums paid, etc.

As we try to find equilibrium in an unstable economy, the GOP chooses to encourage the confusion of worry and concern, distracting us from the real reasons the economy is unstable. If you don't pay attention, those anonymous fingers in your wallet will just keep taking until there's nothing left.

News flash -- you and I don't get a bailout, but we are the unlimited source of funds for the shiftless.

Big money is counting on our collective bafflement. The more an issue can be confused the less likely the public will be to question policy and redirect greed.

Sadly, Moran is showing the toxic side of the GOP, and this isn't the first time. His essay ignores data from the Commerce Department that show increases in consumer confidence and spending, and that the economy has expanded steadily both this year and last. These are signs of an economy in recovery, thanks in part to the Dodd Frank bill, which enforces measures that protect consumers and investors, and assures that banks have to follow some rules when it comes to fees, mortgages and investing.

The implementation of the bill has been harassed by the GOP, resulting in delays while banks figure out ways to get around regulation of fees and avoid transparency in accounting. Part of the reform, called the Durbin amendment, deals with fees on debit card transactions, limiting the amount of money a bank can charge to process a transaction. This part of the reform applies only to banks with over ten billion in assets. Not really your local community bank, is it?

The GOP stalled the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Bureau, because no fox wants a watch dog on the hen house. Finally, the bureau will make way into the system, and this is the reason our Republican friends are so worried.

Of course, the GOP wants to impede Dodd-Frank, it's what they do -- stall, misdirect, inflame, malign and otherwise obfuscate real reform of a banking system that creates squalor.

Perhaps Moran and his party really did think the market would "self-correct" in 2007, although the groundwork for the catastrophe on Wall Street began long before, with Ronald Reagan, and was accelerated by two unfunded wars under the second Bush.

And lest I sound like a Democrat, it must be added that every president since, including this one, has made strident efforts to appease Wall Street and the banks in their demand for deregulation.

The interests of money have a different fantasy, an assumption that "market forces" will give the people exactly what they want. It's a purposeful misdirection. The "invisible hand" of the market is the same one pilfering your wallet with user fees and inequitable rates. Until Dodd-Frank.

From a certain perspective, this is Man being master of his own domain. From another angle, the dominators get their power at someone else's expense. The other side of Too Big To Fail is the sad face of Too Small To Succeed.

Will we ever get to a point where we aren't paying off someone else's credit mess? Will we be told the market force fairy tale again, in a couple of years, when the money dogs play fast and loose with national capital?

The voter is left to swallow the losses of pensions, veteran's benefits, and adequate schools and roads, and we pay for the privilege of this disrespect. We accept the ludicrous situation so easily. We are comfortable with the status quo, where a few can pillage the coffers of the many.

A decaying infrastructure hinders trade. It's why Rome built roads. The GOP eats our taxes with money games and it's counter-productive to a mobile society. Let's fix that first, can we? Can we decide everyone's lives are more important than some greedy guys taking all the money?

Is that too big a stretch?

The labor force that moves this economy creates the real wealth of the nation, yet we've allowed ourselves to be classed as consumers, units of someone else's measure. The hourly wage earner is the muscle behind progress, for good purposes. We should demand what we have earned, but we quibble over these manufactured distractions. Moran has given us another distraction, and I won't buy it.

Mary Hart-Detrixhe is a lifelong resident of the prairie and Ellis County. Her work can be found at www.janeQaverage.com.

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