Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,
Insomnia
insomnia

Putting the "No bailout!" blusterring in perspective...

While I can agree with the anger of those who say "No bailout!" ... I also think that they are, by and large, shortsighted, with little knowledge of economics. 

Complaining about taxpayers *lending* $750B is one thing... but I find it odd that they aren't complaining about the US public -- retirees on a pension, people with a company stock plan or an IRA who are saving for retirement and investing in American companies -- *losing* more than $3 Trillion since this whole subprime mess began.

Really, it's a bit like complaining about being diagnosed with gangrene on your toes, ignoring your doctor's advice to amputate... and ignoring the advice of practically everyone with real credibility who are called in to confirm the diagnosis... all because you have a strong faith-based belief in the ability of your body to heal itself... thereby risking your entire leg... or worse. 

There are some understandable, viable historic alternatives to the extent of the intervention that is needed... some of which could cost as little as $250B, and which would concentrate the bailout on the two main goals of increasing market liquidity while protecting people's homes from foreclosure... but the fact remains that doing nothing is inherently very risky and contrary to the advice of the world's greatest financial experts.

So, when you get an option to lend money to fix a problem, with guarantees to get that money back... while you can and should debate how to make such a fix more effective and less expensive, you still should seriously consider it... especially when the experts say that the cost of doing nothing outweighs the cost of acting quickly.

It's frustrating that the "No bailout!" people look to the stock market as a sign of whether they, by making the "tough" decision,  are doing the right thing. When the market comes back somewhat after a record drop... well, hey! That's success!

But of course, it isn't.  The real indicator of their failure is this kinda thing... McDonalds can't borrow enough money to expand its business... and what it can borrow will probably be at higher interest rates. It will take months before we feel the full pain brought on by the "no bailout!" crowd, who, no doubt, will blame American unemployment, foreclosures, and poverty on traditional "market forces"... an expression which is to the American people what "collateral damage" is to the Iraqis or Afghanis... a rationalized, coldly unemotiona, inevitably justifiable expression for human suffering.

You can do something about not killing foriegn civilians, or not kicking American families to the curb... but you can't do a damn thing about inevitablity of "collateral damage" and "market forces". 

People talk about how much $750B is... but that's less than half the cost of Iraq will be... and unlike the subprime fix, we're NEVER gonna see that money again. The same people stonewalling a $750B loan to shore up the health and liquidity of our economy are ones who routinely approve *giving away* over $20B a year in farm subsidies, billions to Israel... billions to Egypt... 

The people who opposed the economic fix are against a "socialist" loan to remove an infection ragaving our economy, but they had no problem with Ben Bernanke dumping billions of dollars of funny money into our economy and lowering interest rates down to record lows... thereby facilitating hundreds of billions worth of low-interest loans to the unregulated Wall Street firms that started the subprime mess... because everyone knows that real estate is a "sure bet" that never goes down in price.

So, when someone offers your firm loans with practically no interest, why not throw that money at a sure thing?!    

Free money for corporate America when they want to make money, but not for America as a whole, when they want to avoid paying the price for corporate America's mistakes? Suuure. Let's face it... the people who didn't vote for the bailout are a bunch of socialist hypocrites... whether they want to admit it or not. It's just that their form of socialism looks a lot more like corporate fascism.

Lately, I've noticed a lot of Republicans blaming the mess not on things like the Republican deregulation bill put forth by Phil Gramm, but on the Community Reinvestment Act that Bill Clinton and the Democrats insisted upon in order to support the Republicans deregulation bill. Unfortunately, that claim just doesn't make sense.

There is plenty of blame to go around, certainly... but by and large, it's still largely a matter of unchecked deregulation combined with historically easy access to "Helicopter Ben's" billions.

People from both sides of the aisle in Congress warned about the problem... but none of them succeeded in passing legislation to stop it.  Ultimately, that says more about the excessive corporate influence in Washington and the ineffectively partisan nature of American politics today  than anything else.
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