Congress passed a financial services reform bill last year, and now the Executive branch seeks public comments on how to regulate Wall Street pay practices -- which, as you know, are still out of hand. Wall Street titans continue to make hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses, and for what? Crashing the economy and getting away with it? Keeping their little shell game economy going while the rest of us down here scuffle? Public Citizen helps you leave comments to five federal agencies demanding strong regulations on Wall Street pay. This won't take as long as it sounds. Your main theme: pay should reflect a Wall Street commitment to long-term economic health, not short-term economic gain. You may, of course, also write about your employee-of-the-year relative who's out of work now, your retired neighbor who had to go back to work because her 401(k) got murdered, or your friend who just graduated from college and can't get a job. Those stories will all ring a bell with the folks who'll read your comments.
Meanwhile, I've been aware of H.R. 10/S. 299, the REINS Act (yes, it's a clumsy acronym) for some time, but I'm ashamed to admit I've been at a loss to describe it succinctly. Along comes this video from OMB Watch, which will spell it out for you in a mere one minute and eleven seconds. You may yet wonder exactly how the REINS Act would do all the awful things the video says it'll do. Here's how: the REINS Act would force Congress to approve every regulation the Executive branch issues; if Congress doesn't evaluate a particular regulation within 90 days, their inaction nullifies the regulation. Maybe that sounds like a solid check on runaway Executive power, but remember that Congress empowers the Executive to make regulations in the first place. And I don't like giving Congress the power to nullify environmental and safety regulations just by sitting on their asses, especially since "sitting on their asses" is Congress's ideal state. The OMB link above helps you tell your Congresscritters to oppose the REINS Act.
Meanwhile, the FCC gives us no indication it has any inclination to stop the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, but they're still accepting public comments on it, so CREDO helps you submit a comment opposing the merger. We know why the AT&T/T-Mobile merger is a bad idea -- it'll reduce competition, thus ultimately raising prices for consumers, and AT&T will cut "redundant" jobs and continue throttling innovation with its newfound power. After all, AT&T does have a little history of blocking features and censoring content it doesn't like. Need I mention that they were happy to provide their customers' phone records to Mr. Bush (and only bad PR might be keeping it from doing the same with Mr. Obama)? I mean, AT&T just has too much power, and they don't need more power to do more of the evil they're already doing. And yes, I know, the Obama Administration caves to the big telecoms even more than the Bush Administration did. But that only means we need to be more insistent about our will.
Finally, you may not know that Bangladeshi garment workers -- like so many of the world's workers -- don't make enough to feed their families. The Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity helped local garment workers stage protests against this atrocity, and what did their government do? Arrest three of their leaders and fabricate charges against them, charges that could lead to their execution. Now who is the largest buyer of Bangladeshi-made clothing in the U.S.? WalMart, that's who. This means WalMart could benefit financially not only from the mistreatment of Bangladeshi workers, but the execution of labor leaders. So change.org helps you encourage WalMart to demand that justice be done in Bangladesh. I know, I know, that sounds absurd on the face of it -- this is, after all, the corporation that closed down a Quebec store the minute after its workers organized. But there is a bit of a difference between closing a union shop and giving your silent approval to state-sanctioned murder. And there is a chance that WalMart will fear the bad publicity coming from the latter.