Monday, October 06, 2008

Buyer's Remorse - Part I

With current events in America moving at warp speed, it’s difficult to absorb the fact that it was just last Friday (three days ago!) that Congress approved the Bail Out/Rescue bill that designates $700 billion in taxpayer funds for stop-gap investments in private investment banks and other investment companies. Today brought a new onslaught of information: Wall Street still has the “jitters” and dropped 370 points more, because they’re afraid the bail out we were told was the only way to avoid economic disaster may not work. And European and Asian markets tumbled as they contracted the fears of our markets like a virus.

Those with economic savvy are pointing out that the earlier bailout of Lehman Bros., plus the $700 billion just approved, plus an additional $200 billion that will in all likelihood be needed, will actually push us well over the $1 trillion mark faster than you can say “We’ll be paying for George W. Bush for generations to come.” Oh, and incidentally, not so you’d notice in the midst of this disaster, but Congress also gave $25 billion to the Big Three in Detroit last week to help shore up the flagging auto industry.

Before the big bailout became a fait accompli, I received an email with a copy of a letter/petition circulated by more than 100 economists campaigning against the measure and pleading for Congressional hearings and taking the time to review the situation and explore other options. Despite what the public was told, there were other options, and there still are. There is also growing consensus that the bailout cannot work, because it fails to address the root of the problem – the free-falling housing market.

There’s every reason to believe that this crisis was severely misunderstood, poorly and irresponsibly presented, and that the public was fear-mongered by Bush & Co. into thinking this boondoggle was necessary. A lot of folks didn’t buy into it and still don’t, but it doesn’t matter, because both the Senate and the Congress did. It was déjà vu all over again of Bush and his bullshit war campaign over the (actually non-existent) Weapons of Mass Destruction. Instead, the Weapon of Mass Destruction that has most endangered us is our outgoing president. What a surprise.

Everything about this situation is a scandal and a shame of massive proportions. It has been reported that the $700 billion alone could provide health insurance for every man, woman and child in America, and rebuild every crumbling road and bridge. And the next president will be hugely restrained by the wildly increased and already unconscionable national debt enlarged by this maneuver.

What gets me is that both presidential candidates went along with this. Here was a chance for McCain to really behave like a Republican and a maverick and demand that the runaway bailout train be stopped and searched before going any further. But he didn’t. Here was a chance for Obama to behave like a real Democrat and a transformational change agent and …demand that the runaway bailout train be stopped and searched before going any further. But he didn’t either. When the next election comes around, assuming we’re still a voting democracy in 2012, will candidates accuse the incumbent, and each other, of voting for the bail out that sunk us, just as Hillary Clinton was skewered for her initial vote to support Bush’s demand for the Iraq War? She thought she was supporting the commander-in-chief at a moment of crisis. What excuse will either of these men give for their complicity in this insanity?

I do believe Obama/Biden will win out against Sen. McVicious and Gov. Avon Lady. I just hope they’ll be able to do something positive for us all once they get there.

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