Chipping away

Our country has led the worldwide crusade toward deregulation and unfettered free-market capitalism, elevating corporations to the status of exalted churches while deriding government as an entity that does nothing right. But the bill for such dangerous dogma is coming due.

Over the last year, as the power crisis has unfolded, Californians have seen ample evidence of the greed that corporations exhibit when unhindered by regulators. Yet the gouging by electricity generators is merely the tip of an iceberg that floats beneath a sea of press releases, corporate campaign contributions and self-serving political rhetoric.

Two stories in this week’s issue illustrate the problem. In ‘The ancient evil of usury,’ writer Stephen James offers a valuable historical context on the lending of money, showing just how far we’ve sunk in allowing corporations to exploit the poorest and most desperate citizens.

In our cover story, ‘Protect your privacy,’ Robert Speer shows us how even a free-market conservative like Assemblyman Tim Leslie realized that the country’s leading financial institutions—his biggest backers—are harming citizens and abusing our most basic right: privacy.

The free-market propaganda that bombards us all is relentless. Hopefully, stories like these can help crack the façade, awaken the citizenry and help society progress in ways that benefit the many over the few.