In recent months, we have seen at least three examples of corporate arrogance and irresponsibility. Just as health care reform was on life support, health insurance companies ruthlessly raised their rates, and congress found the courage to do something rather than nothing. Recently, while finance reform was being debated, it is clear that at least one financial institution sold a product they recognized to be substandard, so they bet against their own product. Now, just as energy reform seemed dead unless it increased off shore oil drilling, we are in the midst of one of the worst oil spills in our history.
In all of these cases, we have learned that wealthy corporate interests cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. Health insurance companies have found loop holes to not insure their customers, just when they need it the most. Financial institutions will take undue risks to make great profits, knowing the government will bail them out to avoid a collapse of our economic system. Oil companies were allowed to regulate themselves in recent years, so they failed to install a $500,000 device that would have averted the disaster in the Gulf.
One way our federal government is broken, is how much our elected and appointed officials are beholding to corporate wealthy interests in terms of campaign contributions and the influence of wealthy lobbyists. The result is watered down legislation that does not fully reform these systems as much as they need it. One solution would be to limit this influence, by having publicly financed campaigns and a cap on how much can be spent by lobbyists. The trick is to get that passed in Congress. In the meantime, it is up to us voters to hold the private sector accountable by demanding meaningful reform from our elected representatives.