Big companies need oversight

Published 11:41 am Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The current BP oil drilling disaster is causing untold economic and environmental hardship for Alabama and the nation. In Shelby County, not only will we suffer relatively minor inconveniences like vacation plans being ruined and having to watch the prices of some foods increase, but decreased sales tax revenue has the potential of negatively affecting school funding.

As usual, those worst hit by the disaster will be the less well-off who fish, work in the service industry or own small family businesses. In contrast, when the CEO of BP chooses to return to his “normal life,” it will be waiting for him.

This latest big business, multinational disaster, should be the last stake in the coffin of the idea that laissez-faire, trickle-down economics will ensure prosperity for us all. As you recall, this system, sometimes referred to as Reagonomics, proposes that left unfettered, big business would do well and their prosperity would flow down to the rest of us in terms of more jobs, higher wages, less poverty and other benefits.

It might work in the short run; however, in the long run, when profit becomes your primary motive, greed takes over and the only thing that trickles down is what you would expect.

Despite the recent disasters, including the lending fiasco, there are many indications that we haven’t learned our lesson yet.

Lawmakers still seem reluctant to pass legislation that would provide greater oversight to big business particularly those in the banking or oil sectors. And the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to make unrestricted campaign contributions gives large companies even more political influence.

It seems to me that this is a very critical time in our country’s history. As the electorate we should avoid the knee jerk reaction to throw everyone out, which is typical at this point in the political cycle, and consider voting for those who will have the courage to do what’s in the interest of the common good, whether new or incumbent.

To me this means voting for people who will take a hands-on approach to regulating big business and protecting our environment.