Business, Economics and Jobs

Making the US economy less like a casino

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(Image by Jeff Kubina (cc:by-sa))

This story was originally reported by PRI's "The Takeaway." For more, listen to the audio above.

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The different forms of financial regulation currently moving through congress aren't going to solve the underlying problems of the US economy, according to Phil Angelides. And Angelides should know. He's the Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a bipartisan group created to examine the causes of the financial crisis.

The American people have to ask themselves a question, Angelides told PRI's "The Takeaway:" "Did we replace an economy of true wealth creation and job creation with an economy that was inordinately a casino?"

Legislation alone isn't going to get the American economy back on track. Angelides points to failures in the regulation of existing laws as one of the big problems in the economy. The reforms moving through Congress aren't going to fix that.

"Almost two years after the near collapse of the wealthiest and biggest financial system in the world's history," Angelides believes, "very little has changed."

The only way that things are going to change is if people start getting active, according to Raj Patel, author of the book "The Value of Nothing: How to reshape market society and redefine democracy." Patel told Tavis Smiley show earlier this year:

The only way that banks have ever been successfully regulated is because there's been a groundswell of public opinion demanding it, and people getting on to the streets and protesting. That's the only way that social change has happened in this country or any other.

Patel believes that people need to come up with a new way of valuing the things in their lives. For example, if the full environmental and health care costs were taken into consideration, Patel says that a Big Mac hamburger from McDonald's would likely cost more than $200.

That kind of reform is definitely not in current legislation. According to Angelides, though, "I believe in many respects that the debate over reform and reform of our financial markets is just beginning."

"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH. More at thetakeaway.org