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Cola Wars and the campaign to sell Wall Street status quo - Tina Dupuy

In the past hundred years, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola have spent billions in advertising and employed millions of people to get you to think this caffeinated bubbly sugar water is different/better/worse than that caffeinated bubbly sugar water.

People are fiercely loyal and opinionated on the subject. All this marketing and bloviating ignores the fact that two very similar cola products do not equal actual choice. It boils down to an epic campaign for a product void of nutritional substance; a "refreshment" rather than a food. In the end, save the hype -- it's all a bunch of bubbles, sugar and water.

For us veterans of the Cola Wars, it's easy to see that conflict can be manufactured, passions misdirected and, sometimes, what we fight about is intentionally vague.

We saw this during the health-care debate when House Minority Leader John Boehner and others called the then-bill "a government takeover of health care." The only way the statement was true is if you were an insurance company not wanting to be told you have to cover sick people. If "regulations" equal a government takeover of health care, then stoplights are a government takeover of traffic.

Health-care reform is a far cry from government taking over anything. In the town halls over the summer, people were upset by the idea, so with some encouragement and coaching by interest groups, they came out to make that known. As the saying goes, feelings are not facts, and in the health-care debate, the latter beat the snot out of the former.

In the end, we're a sick nation that pays more than any other country for health care and we still rate low in quality of care. The bill that passed is an improvement, not a cure-all, and certainly not enough to trigger the end of the world or even cause an unpronounceable Icelandic volcano to erupt.

The next smoke-and-mirror campaign is pointed at the financial regulatory reform bill. It's not an easy task to sell the idea that criminalizing the mass fleecing of the middle class can, somehow, be bad for working Americans.

Sen. Mitch McConnell has tried by saying the reform bill will lead to an endless taxpayer-funded bailout. This was widely panned as being straight from pollster Frank Luntz's Word Doctors leaked report on how to stop the bill. Number 17, under Language reads, "It's not 'reform.' - This is not a reform bill. It is the 'Stop the Big Bank Bailout bill.'" It's also widely noted that the status quo is the actual endless taxpayer-funded bailout.

Like saying, "Don't outlaw grift -- private industry theft creates jobs. No socialism!"

Whose side are these guys on?

One would think this financial cataclysm would tone down the canard chorus for some safeguard installments. But hey, people think the uniform burger chain, Burger King, is an alternative to the uniform burger chain, McDonalds. Mounds of money can make even the goofiest of conclusions suddenly make sense.

It's not going to be comfortable to convince the millions of victims that the shady, immoral and unethical practices on Wall Street that put them out on the street, crippled their neighborhoods and wiped-out their retirement, shouldn't be zapped by sunlight, because of "American values."

It'd be a nice trick, though. One is the argument to leave well enough alone, the Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel said on This Week: "The fact that the SEC has a civil complaint against this [Goldman Sachs], their argument is that this is about misrepresentation of marketing a security, a law that has been on the books forever."

So, because there is a suit brought up by the SEC against Goldman, it is proof we don't need any more regulations for the banking industry? The suit is civil, so, if Goldman loses because of their sneaky and super complicated shorting, which made them billions, they'll have to pay a fine. Unfortunately (pun intended), a lot of the stuff they did was legal, that's the real issue.

Usually being criminally injurious is a crime. But, we can talk it out over a Coke ... or a Pepsi, whichever you prefer.

Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the editor of FishbowlLA.com. Tina can be reached at tina@cagle.com.