nun.jpgIs anyone having a duh moment?

Politicians in this country, and I’m talking Republicans and Democrats, removed a lot of hefty regulations on the financial sector over the years. “Let businesses police themselves,” so many of these so-called free-market types kept telling us.

Well, surprise, surprise. The financial system is in ruin. Why? Because when money is involved common sense and ethics go flying out the window. Greed can not police itself. We all know this, right?

Thousands of financial sector employees are suffering this week because they don’t know how they’re going to make ends meet having lost their jobs.

A friend asked me the other day, that if someone is already rich, why would they engage in unethical or even illegal behavior to get more money? Unfortunately, we see this time and time again. It’s never enough.

No matter how much money we make we typically end up living beyond it. That’s just human nature and we need laws and enforcement in place to keep an eye on this.

Regulators need to keep an on eye not only on financial executives, but also the big wigs in industries beyond Wall Street, especially those that put workers at risk like construction, mining, or factory work. The greed factor here could mean more than layoffs, it could mean death for a worker because someone decided to take a short cut in order to save money.

That’s why I’m happy to report that the federal government has gotten off its fat ass after decades of inaction and finally released regulations that includes a host of new safety rules including requiring crane operators to pass a certification test before they’re allowed to get into that dangerous machine and kill themselves and others. (This story didn’t get much attention yesterday because of the financial frenzy.)crane.jpg

I know, you guys are in shock, right? It doesn’t make sense that such a requirement has taken so long to come to pass. But that’s the way it goes folks. Businesses fight regulations and government, too often, caves.

Well, so many crane operators have fallen to their deaths lately that even the Department of Labor had to finally do something.

I’ve written extensively in this blog and in my column on about the worker safety issues in this country, and I haven’t hidden my frustration with the government’s slow and inept response to many of the tragedies.

But there is a regulation fever in the air.

You’ve got the federal government bailing out large financial institutions and talk from both sides of the aisle on beefing up regulations to curtail such a Wall Street orgy in the future.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson just spoke to the nation and it’s not good. He pretty much says taxpayers will have to pony up hundreds of billions of dollars to clean up the mess that the fat cats on Wall Street made when they decided to swim with the subprime mortgage fishes and drowned. Yeap, we have to pay for someone else’s greed folks. How will this help? I’m not quite sure.

During his brief press conference, he also brought out the nun with the ruler threat. “Our financial regulatory structure is suboptimal,” he says. While the government has more pressing issues to deal with right now, he says, change to the regulatory — or should he say non regulatory — structure will come.

You would think, instead of bailing out the very institutions that started this whole mess, Paulson would be calling for new regulations now to kick the fox off of chicken coop protection duty.

Look, I love our capitalistic system. My dad and mom were both entrepreneurs and they were able to provide a good life for their family and even send their three knuckle head daughters to college.

But my parents also taught us to be smart. Because of their history growing up as Greeks living in Turkey at a tumultuous time, they saw the underbelly of human nature in its rawest form — the good and the bad.

The lesson we learned is that people can do great things, but don’t always expect human beings to do the right thing.

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