Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Is Unsavory, But Doing Nothing Is Worse

By Manifesto Joe

There's plenty of blame to go around now, and yours truly is going to be among the first to point a finger. Back in 1984, I had a political opinion column for a short time (until we got a Republican owner) for a small-town daily paper. I was forecasting 24 years ago that the trend toward deregulation was a recipe for disaster.

OK, I told you so. Now we've got an economic train wreck, though, and blame should be sorted out later. Let's clean up the damage first.

Today the U.S. House defeated the proposed $700 billion financial markets bailout, 228-205. To set one piece of the record straight, the opposition was about two-thirds of House Republicans and about 40 percent of House Democrats. Call me distrustful, but I suspect that the House Republican opposition had less to do with small investors and borrowers on Main Street and more to do with big campaign contributors on Wall Street.

I don't enjoy seeing the latter bailed out any more than anyone else with a populist streak. But it's times like these when Americans should see clearly what it means to be a "community." Rich or poor, or in between, we sink or swim together when it comes to national survival. Irresponsible wealth is mostly to blame for this. But as one of those small investors and borrowers on Main Street, I can tell you that my future, and that of others like me, will be the likely price of inaction.

There will be no way for lawmakers to work out an ideal solution for this. But this bill sounded somewhat reasonable, based on general descriptions available since yesterday.

Congress returns to session Thursday. If there was ever a time to call and e-mail your congressperson, this is it, and in favor of action, not inaction. These louts have pensions and health care for life -- they don't have to worry about where their food and medicine are coming from. Let's get them back in Washington and at the table, to forge an acceptable compromise.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.


Marc McDonald said...

As usual, Michael Moore has an interesting take on this crisis (and, as usual, he makes some good points that you won't read in the MSM):


Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the Congressional Budget Office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!

Michael Moore

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

Manifesto Joe said...

I firmly agree on one thing -- what we're dealing with is a kind of economic blackmail, with the rich holding out their hands for the payoff. Where I differ with Michael Moore is that I think the fatcats can very well make good on any threats. They have that kind of money and power. Most of the retribution that working Americans could force upon the rich will probably have to take place AFTER this fleecing. And it's not like there haven't been plenty of them -- this is just one more. The objective is to change the way many Americans think, as happened in the 1930s -- to get them hip to the fact that the rich are not generally their friends, that the rich are usually on the make (that's a big reason why they got that way) and that the only way they can be reined in is for a lot of determined people to act in concert.

The only way I can see a rejection of this bailout as helpful in this way is through a general financial collapse comparable to the one in the early '30s. Perhaps it will take that to change the way people think. But I suspect it would come at a horrific price for most of us, and I don't think that's unfounded fear.

Anonymous said...

Why can't you Libs ever have anything positive to say about our Great Nation? It's disgraceful the way the Libs keep attacking our Commander-In-Chief while our troops are in harm's way. Why don't you Libs support our nation in the War On Terror for a change? These economic problems are entirely the fault of the Democrat Party's wasteful tax-and-spend policies over the years.

Manifesto Joe said...

I debated whether to publish this comment, and decided that it makes for good comic relief, albeit unintentional.

It reminds me of two sayings:

You should try not to argue with fools, lest you be mistaken for one yourself.

The second, from 19th-century English political philosopher John Stuart Mill, goes something like, "Not all conservatives are stupid people. But most stupid people are conservatives."

dr sardonicus said...

I agree - the bailout was bad, but not having a bailout would have been worse. For one thing, Wall Street was prepared to hold the retirement savings of the entire Baby Boom generation hostage until they got what they wanted.

I think a crash similar to the 30's today would be disastrous, and quite possibly the end of Western civilization as we know it. The big difference is that during the Great Depression, working-class and middle-class people had faith that the government would make things right, and faith in the electoral process that if the political leadership wouldn't do the job, they could replace them with people who would - which is what happened in 1932.

Today people don't trust their government, their neighbors, or much of anything else. If we had another Great Depression today, people wouldn't ask the govermnent for help - they'd bar their doors and windows, load their rifles, and generally prepare for the worst.

That anonymous comment has to be a parody.

Manifesto Joe said...

I got the idea that the anonymous comment was a joke, but right-wing bloggers will leave you guessing about that. I can envision some such people being dead serious. The thing that's most suspicious here is that there are no gross spelling or grammatical errors.

Remind Myself said...


Recently an insurance company nearly wind up....

A bank is nearly bankrupt......filing chapter 11 protection.

How it affect you? Did you buy insurance? Did you buy mini note or bonds?

Who fault?

They bailout trouble finance company, but they will not bail out your credit card bills……You got no choice, and no point pointing finger but you can prevent similar things from happen again……

The top management of the Public listed company ( belong to "public" ) salary should be tied a portion of it to the shares price ( IPO or ave 5 years ).... so when the shares price drop, it don't just penalise the investors, but those who don't take care of the company.....If this rule is pass on, without any need of further regulation, all industries ( as long as it is public listed ) will be self regulated......because the top management will be concern about their own pay check……
Meanwhile if company was being acquired, there will be a great movement in terms of staff……eventually staff suffer also.
Some might feel that it sound stupid….. as there is long and Short position…but in reality there is still many different caliber CEO… there is still long and short…..They can ban short selling definitely they can do something about this.......

Are you a partisan?

Sign a petition to your favourite president candidate, congress member, House of representative again and ask for their views to comment on this, and what regulations they are going to raise for implementation.....If you agree on my point, please share with many people as possible.... Finance and Media are the two only industries can shaken politics ( Maybe Hackers can ), please help to highlight also...