By Bud Stevenson, March 6, 2016
First, a complaint.
I’m listening to Sen. Ted Cruz as I sit at the kitchen table, and in his speech he makes an all-too-familiar slur about Wall Street. Of course, Wall Street is the main demon in Bernie Sanders’ lexicon, but I have to say he’s in good, or rather, bad, company. Politicians of both, or all, parties, if you include Sanders’ socialists, use Wall Street as their whipping boy at every opportunity.
The politicians taking aim at the corner of Broad and Wall are either totally ignorant of our economic history or deliberately lying to arouse the “wad,” as Norman Mailer called the “unwashed masses.”
“Yeah, Wall Street, they’re responsible for all our problems; it’s time we reined them in.” How about a brief history lesson before I go further?
I don’t think there’s any politician using Wall Street as a whipping boy who doesn’t understand, if only faintly, that we are a capitalist country. We also produce more of almost everything needed to support our high standard of living, as well as the economies of many other countries.
Ask yourself if Japan’s “economic miracle” as it’s been called would have occurred without capitalism? And of course Japan is only one of countless countries that have thrived because of the free market. Switzerland, a nation whose population is only one-fifth that of California’s, is a banking powerhouse with worldwide influence. To my knowledge, Switzerland is a capitalist country where bank stocks are freely traded.
I believe it’s fair to say that capitalism has helped citizens thrive in every country where a genuinely free market exists. Perhaps Cruz, who, to my knowledge, has had jobs funded by taxpayers for his entire adult life, isn’t aware who’s paying the tab.
I think many Americans, sadly, think money simply comes from the government, and not largely from capitalism. Maybe politicians, instead of portraying Wall Street as an evil to be throttled, should show some gratitude in their public remarks.
Let me now turn to something very sad. That would be the death in a solo car crash of Aubrey McClendon, founder of Chesapeake Energy.
If you’re not familiar with Chesapeake, the company may simply be the most important factor in our availability of oil and natural gas. How so? Because, under McClendon’s guidance, Chesapeake was the first energy company in the United States to employ hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.
If you’re paying $2 a gallon for gasoline, rather than the gloom-and-doom prediction of $6 or $7 a gallon, you have the late Mr. McClendon to thank. Fracking, as you’re probably aware, has turned the U.S. from a heavy net importer of oil to an exporter, and that has made all the difference in our standard of living.
Sadly, McClendon’s fatal crash came a day after his indictment for violating anti-trust laws, specifically for alleged bid-rigging. The question that may go unanswered is whether his crash was an accident or a suicide. So, far, no one knows. (Editor: or worse!)