How can I put this politely? For years I have been warned, "Dave, you’re too negative!" Well, I can’t help it; I’ve tried to change but it's no use. So let me describe the revised, sanitized, scrutinized, super-sized bailout bill as optimistically as I can. How about half a hammer? Or nothing for something? Or my favorite, a piss snow cone.
Wall Street gets what they want; House Republicans get what they want but will b*tch about it just the same. The only items stripped from the bill are the items which aid the general populace. You remember them don’t you? The folks losing their homes and jobs at a record rates. The little Dutch boy will put half his finger in the dike and hope for the best. And if the waters leak through and drown the populace, remember this is the era of personal responsibility.
Mighty Odysseus can now climb aboard his ship to slay the credit monster, safe and secure that he now has a magic bow, with no arrows. Just as in other financial panics, the contagion spreads like wild fire, and halfway measures have the same affect as fighting a forest fire with a seltzer bottle. Main Street can bail out Wall Street and the benefits for Main Street will be negligible. If, however, Main Street was repaired, Wall Street would prosper on its own.
The Republicans should be remembered come November for proudly standing up, to pose and posture, while the nation teetered toward calamity. John McCain suspended his campaign to go and straighten out the Capitol Hill crowd but instead ended the weekend waiting in his office for a phone call after being hornswaggled by House Republicans. The old master gets schooled by the new kids on the block. Now they've worked through the night to craft a new rescue plan, a plan that won’t save the country but might save their careers.
The Republican, revisionist history writers are hard at work trying to place the blame on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the poor, and the Community Redevelopment Act. "See what happens when you try to help people?" they cry. Freddie and Fannie bought up mortgages; the loans they issued were not subprime. Others made the subprime loans and sold them to Freddie and Fannie in bundles, but that doesn’t fit the Republican mythology. Had the economy not floundered due to exported middle-class jobs, which in turn forced down wages for the remaining middle-class jobs, Freddie and Fannie would be but a blip on the radar.
Maybe if we hadn’t spent $557,653,031,308 on the war in Iraq and added it to our national debt, or wasted billions on the Department of Homeland Dramatics and more billions on the missile defense shield to nowhere, perhaps a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street wouldn’t be necessary. Yet the answer is even simpler than that, when you export jobs you export wealth. It's no more complicated than a hole in a bucket. You don’t miss the water till the well runs dry, and you don’t miss the wealth until the jobs run dry.
Once again the administration abandons the poor and the middle class as they are left behind to sink or swim on their own in the hurricane as the economic levies fall. Theirs is a greed to the point of stupidity, but let's always remember to blame the poor here. Stripped from the bill is a provision which, up until the 2005 bankruptcy law, had been the law of the land, giving bankruptcy judges the ability to renegotiate home loans. A $250,000 home mortgage goes into bankruptcy, the current market value is $180,000 for a loss of $70,000, and the loan could be saved. Instead, under the Republican plan the judge is powerless. The home is foreclosed, the family is dispossessed, and the bank then sells the mortgage to the government for ten to twenty cents on the dollar, or $25,000 to $50,000, and the bank takes a $200,000 loss.
But we are about blaming the poor and middle class here, so let's not let the facts get in the way of a good argument. Like Berlin in 1945, the Republicans plant flags in the rubble. "Our buildings are broken, but not our spirits!" The insurance provisions that the House Republicans fought so hard for is voluntary and doesn’t take affect for five years. If your parachute doesn’t open then you don’t have to pay for it for five years! Wall Street is saved. . . temporarily. The banks will continue to eat each other until two or three super banks are all that is left, but the executives will be saved. Hooray! Tens of thousands of bank workers will lose their jobs; too bad for them but that’s Capitalism. We must let the free market work, right? Good thing for the Republicans that Wall Street and Main Street aren’t connected.
To the Republicans and John McCain, and McCain even said it again and again in the recent debate, it's all about cutting costs and cutting government spending (that’s you). Billions made available to help Wall Street and to rescue banks. George Bush has promised to rebuild Georgia, but not the Georgia that I live in, the other one! He’s pledged American support to rebuild Afghanistan, but for Galveston he’s not too much help. He’s busting a gut and exerting the last ounce of his administration's strength seeking a free trade agreement with Colombia, but for the District of Columbia, not so much.
This promise of new regulation obscures the truth. "Oh," they say, "it couldn’t be helped because we didn’t understand the new financial instruments!" The problems we are facing are the same problems which caused the market collapse in 1929, rampant speculation, leveraging, and buying on margin. Their claim is that they didn’t understand how bank robbery works because they robbed an ATM. They cry out, aghast, "How could the regulators have failed us?" I guess when George Bush appoints members to the SEC whose philosophy says that they don’t believe in the SEC in the first place, that might have something to do with it.
Like Operation Blue Book, if you don’t believe in UFO’s in the first place, you probably won’t find any. But we are at a travis here; we must cross the river whether we like it or not. No matter how cold or deep the water, no matter how swift the current. Capitalism is failing in the hands of the uncontrolled Capitalists. Their philosophy of let the market work and screw the workers has now failed us twice in a hundred years. The last time, FDR saved Capitalism for the United States, but Europe was not so lucky.
The rescue must start at the bottom where the damage is most felt; jobs are the lifeblood of the economy and wages are the health. Globalism is a massive failure which has brought wealth for the wealthy, need for the needy, and misery for the miserable worldwide. The sole purpose for a government is the preservation and well being of its citizens. The abdication of that guiding purpose is the cause of all this suffering, not just today but every day, from Katrina to Guantanamo, from 9-11 to 9-29-08, the abdication is not an oversight but a crime against the people. A crime that deserves not jail time but the guillotine, not as a measure of vengeance but as a lesson to the political class that it will not be tolerated ever again.
Or as comedian Chris Rock put it, "George Bush doesn’t give a f*ck about you; if you were hanging from a cliff and George Bush had a pocket full of fucks, he still wouldn’t give you one." The cliff analogy is a perfect one because that’s how they see themselves, as above you. "You got yourself into this," they say, "now you get yourself out, but uh, before you let go can I have a trillion dollars? We really need it to save the country; you love your country don’t you? If you give it to us, we’ll give you a nice, big, juicy snow cone!"