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by Robert B. Reich
There are two great centers of unaccountable power in the American political-economic system today -- places where decisions that significantly affect large numbers of Americans are made in secret, and are unchecked either by effective democratic oversight or by market competition.
One goes by the name of the "intelligence community," and its epicenter is the
But the NSA has so much power, and oversight of it is so thin, that we have every reason to be concerned. The fact that its technological reach is vast, its resources almost limitless and its operations shrouded in secrecy make it difficult for a handful of elected representatives to effectively monitor even a tiny fraction of what it does. And every new revelation of its clandestine "requests" for companies to hand over information about our personal lives and communications further undermines our trust. To the contrary, the NSA seems to be literally out of control.
The second center of unaccountable power goes by the name of Wall Street and is centered in the largest banks there. If we trusted that market forces kept them in check and that they did not exercise inordinate influence over
But those banks are now so large (much larger than they were when they almost melted down five years ago), have such a monopolistic grip on our financial system and exercise so much power over Washington that we have cause for concern. The fact that not a single Wall Street executive has been held legally accountable for the excesses that almost brought the economy to its knees five years ago and continues to burden millions of Americans, that even the attorney general confesses the biggest banks are "too big to jail," that the big banks continue to make irresponsible bets (such as those resulting in
It is rare in these harshly partisan times for the political left and right to agree on much of anything. But the reason, I think, both are worried about the encroachments of the NSA on the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, as well as the depredations of "too big to fail or jail" Wall Street banks on our economy, is fundamentally the same: It is this toxic combination of inordinate power and lack of accountability that renders both of them dangerous, threatening our basic values and institutions.
That neither Republicans nor Democrats have done much of anything to effectively rein in these two centers of unaccountable power suggests that if there is ever to be a viable third party in America, it will be born of the ill-fated consequences.
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The Two Centers of Unaccountable Power in America | Politics