The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Better living through less oversight

When it was reported that the election results had been as favorable for Dems as they could be, Iraq and Congressional corruption were widely cited as the two major factors. Also mentioned, but not nearly as widely, was the popularity of a minimum wage increase. This is a favorite bugbear of the right-- it's government manipulation of the free market (unbridled socialism!), it will lead to massive unemployment, cause economic stagnation, etc. There's no evidence of that, although state-level increases have actually led to higher employment, not to mention a better standard of living for the working poor.

So it's a strange irony to see a conservative group essentially fighting for wage protection-- and turning to the reactionary Bush administration to get it. All right, I take that back. This sort of story has become sickeningly unironic in the last six years. It's just another tale of the already-rich lining up at the trough for more.

Corporate profits are at record levels. The Dow, too, has climbed past its high-water mark from the dot-com era. Executives reap bigger and bigger paydays, even as wages have stagnated. Meanwhile, the widening investigation into stock-option backdating reminds us that the corporate malfeasance era was much more than just a couple of bad apples like Enron and WorldCom.

It seems almost unbelievable, then, that corporate America would pick this moment to beg for relaxed regulation and enforcement, as well as more protection from investors’ lawsuits. But as Stephen Labaton reported recently in The Times, industry groups are seeking broad new protections for corporations and accounting firms, not through legislation but from the Bush administration through agency rule changes.

This is really a must-read. As it points out, the wheeler-dealers are making the same arguments they've always rejected from workers when it comes to international competition-- but they're predictably uninterested in the free market when it comes to executive pay.

The icing on the cake? A classic of "Bushery," which I'm pleased to say I just came up with on the spot-- these champions of the free market wish to protect their industry (and world-leading executive pay levels) from cheaper competition by stripping investors of their protections against corporate malfeasance.