by Jeff Siegel
The lists are here and here. Find your represenative in the U.S. House and senator, and vote against them. It’s that simple. That’s the way the system works, and it’s about damn time we took it back from the people with their hands in our pockets.
In fact, I dare anyone who voted for the bailout to call me and explain their vote, and especially why there were no alternatives. But they won’t, because they know, despite all the high sounding rhetoric, that they did the bidding of the failed Bush administration and a corporate and elitist Wall Street that doesn’t care about anything except stuffing its pockets.
As Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett, one of the few real Democrats left in the party, put it during the first House vote: “Like the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, this bill is fueled by fear and haste,” adding that congressional negotiators had “never seriously considered any alternative” to the administration’s plan, and had only barely modified what they were given. The bailout gives unprecedented powers to an administration that he said allowed the crisis to develop in the first place.
Because there were alternatives. Those of us who were against the bailout aren’t, as The New York Times’ David Brooks called us, nihilists. We acknowledge there is a problem. Hell, we’ve been shouting that there has been a problem for years, and people like Brooks have been happily ignoring us. Because we know a better way to fix the problem than by writing a welfare check to Wall Street multi-nationals.
Why did we have to pay for the bad loans? Why can’t the government just take them off the books, in an RTC-style deal (RTC stands for Resolution Trust Corporation) — the way everyone’s "hero," Ronald Reagan, did during the 1980s savings and loan crisis? The banks get rid of the loans, the taxpayers don’t get soaked for anything more than paying off insured deposits, and life goes on.
The difference, though, between then and now, is that the elite running the country equate the health of the stock market with the health of the economy. In an RTC-style bailout, the banks would have had to take losses, and their stock prices would go down. Pay them for their bad loans, and their books won’t suffer — might even look better. And this is an administration and a Congress, in their fear and gluttony for campaign cash, that will go to any length to please Wall Street. If the market is soaring, then all else is well — even if the unemployment rate in Michigan is almost 9 percent or if home prices in the 20 biggest U.S. cities dropped 16.3 percent in July.
The masters of Wall Street have a created a situation where they are insulated from the economy, and the government, with its lax regulation and its rewards for failing, is the key to that. Case in point is homebuilder DR Horton, which has lost $1 billion over the past 18 months — yet its stock price was one-quarter over its 52-week low at the end of last week. How is this possible? No one is buying houses and no one will buy houses for years. Horton stock should be setting 52-week lows, not rallying past them.
But in a world where lenders who screw up get cash to tide them over, the wise guys probably think Horton is a smart play. They bid up the price of the stock in anticipation of another government handout, perhaps this time to get the housing sector going. That there is no credit and that no one can afford to buy a home is irrelevant. It’s all about the handout.
So bring on the election. Let me at that ballot. I know who to vote against, and I’m going to do it. The bosses haven’t taken that away from us yet.
For more background on the economic crisis, please see these archival posts:
(The graphic is by Mike Licht from NotionsCapital.com via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)
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by Jeff Siegel