On Tuesday, I wrote about the biggest news stories for consumers in 2015. There wasn't much positive to report with lagging salaries for workers, more and more layoffs, increased mergers, record-breaking fines for corporations accused of fraud and deception, and lagging government services.
And, 2016 doesn't look much better. With the Republican candidates for president spouting a conservative approach that favors corporations over consumers, it doesn't look like we'll be seeing improvements any time soon.
What's upsetting to me is that conservatives have taken over the country in terms of how the governments operates and who we are.
Congress has been stalemated for years. At the state level, states with Republican governors lag behind. Even in more progressive states, such as Washington where I live, the legislature is deadlocked because two Democrats joined Republicans in the Senate. We limp along with no new ideas and the only solution to funding problems is to slash programs, then slash them again.
At the local level, it's a badge of honor not to raise taxes. Our 50-year-old roads and bridges are crumbling, yet nothing is done. Homelessness is widespread. Since Pres. Ronald Reagan systematically dismantled public housing programs when he was in office, it's typical to see people, including veterans, living on the streets and in homeless camps.
During the 1960s and 70s, I didn't envision America to be like it is today – a society deeply divided on the question of how government operates and how we treat and care for those who are less fortunate.
And, unfortunately, things are getting worse. The popularity of Donald Trump, with his philosophy of hate of immigrants, minorities, and women, has taken the great divide in American to an all-time low.
Trump's hate speech is increasing the membership in the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups, according to an article on Politico. Trump is energizing hate groups and creating an atmosphere likely to lead to more violence against American Muslims, the article said.
Trump and other Republican candidates for president want Americans to be fearful. That way they can win control of government at all levels, cutting government spending and regulations. And, that's what bad for consumers. The Great Recession occurred under Pres. George W. Bush because the federal government took no action against predatory lending in the mortgage industry.
If Republicans win the presidency in 2016, they'll begin doing away with government regulations: abolishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, set up to protect consumers after the stunning financial losses suffered during the Great Recession and from other corporate fraud; slashing the regulations administered by the Environmental Protection Agency; increasing the pro-industry stance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and cutting back on the administration of consumer laws by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Federal Trade Commission, and much more.
So, in 2015, consumers lost – again – in the continual battle against corporate giants. Conservatives kept up their propaganda, promoted by Fox News and conservative shock jocks, and rather than moving forward, the nation is deadlocked.
The thing that's ironic is that the conservative push for less regulations benefits corporations greatly. It gives them unlimited power to do that they want in the marketplace, which is detrimental to consumers who pay more for shoddy products and poor customer service.
Since I've been a consumer specialist and journalist for decades, I'm aware that consumers don't act in their own interest. They identify instead with the producer interest of the businesses or corporations they work for. In fact, consumers seldom complain when they have a problem. I don't see any changes there soon.
It's just so disappointing to see a deadlocked America, grinding along in turmoil. I think conservatives are doing a great disservice to America.