So President Bush and our top political leaders come to us in a panic and tell us we have to provide $700 billion in tax dollars to buy up bad mortgages and bad debt to prop up a system that may fail.
What are we supposed to think?
It was dreadful to see President Bush on television on Wednesday evening, trying to scare the whey out of us. The words he used to drive home his points were quite dramatic.
"We're in the midst of a serious financial crisis," Bush warned. "Major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down ... top economic experts warn that, without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold ... More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs ..."
It was a pretty serious and threatening address, all in all. Reminded us a lot of the type of talk he used to sell us on the need to immediately invade Iraq or risk seeing a mushroom cloud over New York City.
Why should we trust you, Mr. Bush?
The initial plan from the Bush administration was a joke. In effect, it was this: "Just hurry up and give us $700 billion and we'll solve everything. But it has to be no strings attached; just trust us. Oh, and did we say to hurry?"
Who created these economic problems? We hear of so many corporate executives who receive multi-million dollar bonuses after taking away the jobs of thousands of American workers. We hear of companies that fail, yet the executives walk away with millions in stock options. There seems to be no accountability, and no penalty for failure. Speculators and Wall Street market gamblers can take a lot of risks, yet if they fail, they face no penalty. After all, they are not gambling with their own money. We remember the lessons of Enron; it's always someone else who pays the price.
That's why there is so much anger in this nation right now, and it is justified.
Countless greedy individuals weakened our nation's economic system. They set up a financial house of cards, and lobbied the Congress to remove oversight. And when the shaky foundation collapsed, they still expect to avoid any penalty by having the American taxpayer now step in with a bailout, which will hugely increase our national debt.
The proposed plan will also effectively socialize a big part of our economy. That's pretty strange coming from President Bush, who has loudly railed against "socialized medicine" at every opportunity during his time in office. (How much health care could be provided for $700 billion? How many college tuitions?)
Why is there no bailout for those who were victims of predatory lending? How about direct help for those who face foreclosure on their homes?
Rather than buy up all that bad debt, why not try taking some of that money and giving it to the citizens who are the most at risk by this economic storm? The citizens, by and large, had nothing to do with these failures. Those whose recklessness was responsible for this mess are quickly given a lifeline and a bailout, yet those who are hurting the most just see more of their taxes going to prop up a corrupt system. After all, Mr. Bush has not mentioned changing the way business is done. It's just a $700 billion patch job, and no one knows how long it will hold up.
It's plain to see where this government's priorities have been in recent years, and, tragically, they've not been with the average Joe.