Needed: a ‘Third’ Separation of Power
Tyranny is never finally extinguished, it just keeps coming back in other guises — more menacing and formidable each time.
At least, that would seem to be the lesson of the last millennium or so.
Once upon a time — the Middle Ages, to be specific — people were under the thumb of the King.
The Magna Carta, issued in 1215, circumscribed royal power and transferred sovereignty to the King’s subjects (or at least some of them — a select group of barons, initially).
Call it “Separation of King and State.”
Almost six centuries later, the Bill of Rights — and specifically, the First Amendment — established the separation of Church and State, curtailing religion’s influence over government (at least in the U.S.).
Now, in the wake of the Crash of ’08, caused by many of the same abuses that preceded The Great Depression, another, third “separation” is urgently needed: an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrining the separation of (Big) Business and State.
Three Strikes & You’re Out
Passing what would be the 28th Amendment is really nothing more than a (belated) recognition that concentrated business power, given enough time, will inevitably slip whatever chains (regulations) government seeks to impose on it.
That’s what happened in the wake of the great anti-trust movement at the turn of the 20th century.
It’s what happened in the Roaring ’20’s, which set the stage for The Great Depression and the decade of misery it ushered in (more, if you count World War II).
And concentrated, ascendant financial power is what lies at the heart of the Crash of ’08: a noxious (if familiar) stew of corporate greed, co-opted government, and fleeced and impoverished citizens.
A Worthy Legacy
Einstein famously said that doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.
Attempting to tame Wall Street, using the same strategies and mindset applied by previous generations of reformers and regulators, is no different.
The economic stewards of The Great Depression, led by FDR, put in place a financial system that served this country well for more than half a century.
This generation’s economic stewards should try to leave behind a system that lasts even longer.