Thursday, October 02, 2008
Those who say no.
When I read or listen to all of the verbiage that is floating around concerning the financial straight that the Bush Administration has put us in, I feel very much like I am still listening a broken phonograph disc, repeating the same word over and over. No matter which side of the "bailout" question I am listening to, it is almost without exception based on grabbing a single concept, extrapolating that to being the cause for everything and then suggesting that there is only one answer.
It ain't that simple, folks, as I will try to explain after the the jump.
The anti-capitalist left views the entire fiasco as a way to get the average taxpayer to pay for the mistakes of the capitalist goons who cause it and floated away on their golden parachutes.
Then, there is the argument, made by some who would say "yes" to the bailout, that some of these companies are just too big to fail. That leads to further assumptions such as enforcing a greater degree monopoly protection, or breaking up the big institutions. The results of that would probably be the same as what we got by breaking up AT&T. It will not be what the proponents claim.
Personally, this does not affect me as much as it will affect many. I don't really need to assets in my 401-K and they are in a well balanced group of stocks.
However, I grew up with parents who were forever impacted by the Great Depression. My father owned a small town grocery and lost it because he could not get the credit to buy new stock and his customers, to whom he had allowed credit, could not pay.
We see that happening already in this case, affecting mainly small businesses. NPR had a story on this AM about a small machine shop that had one of their best customer's cancel all orders. The company owner said that he even drove over to the customer's plant to count the cars in the parking lot and verify that they were still in business.
There are members of Congress who are absolutely scared of being responsible for the next Great Depression having lived through the last. I don't blame them. I am old enough to have observed the results. I don't think that most Greens are or they might be more circumspect in their rhetoric on the "no bailout" side.
There are multiple options as to what we should be doing. Maybe we need to take a bit more time than the market is comfortable with. Again, I would blame Bush and Paulsen for that. The rhetoric that they used set up expectations that could never be met.
The real issue is the fact that we have an economic expectation of perpetual growth. The facts are that, while population may continue to grow, the resources of this planet are finite. Greens should arguing for a conversion of our economy requiring growth to succeed into one based on the idea of sustainability. That is a word that seems to have been lost from our political discourse. It needs to be re-introduced to the American Public.
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I think the largest problem many of us on the left have with the bail-out is two fold: 1) we would see the government dealing with the underlying assets value issue by helping the people who hold the actual mortgages, car loans, etc get refinanced into something that they can pay (which would also put money in the banks so they had capitol to lend); 2) we do not trust this Congress or this Administration to get a "rescue" right and prevent further collapse. It took us years to get to this point, and it will take us years to get to a better place. The actions of the last two weeks are not aimed at years, they are aimed at the election. Not a good way to run a country.
Last night's edition of Bill Moyers Journal dealt a lot with the trust issue, both at regards the bailout and also as regards what Biden and Palin said in their so-called debate. I think that between Brooke Gladstoneand Kathleen Hall Jamieson they really got it right.
BILL MOYERS:Speaking of the Katie Couric and Gibson interviews, Palin took a parting shot last night when she blamed her problems in those interviews on "gotcha journalism". What did you think about that?
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Well, it's so easy these days. It's the most popular target there is, the media, as a great monolith. No matter who it is that's doing the attacking, the entire media gets whacked for it. And when it isn't an attack, you still get whacked. It's very, very easy to do that. As a matter of fact, the public opinions of the med, the public's opinion of the media is a record low.
BILL MOYERS:So is of Congress and the presidency. I mean, we're in a trough here.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:And yes. And, you know, the same lack of trust across a wide range of institutions is reflected in what transpired over the bailout. But in the in the case of this, when you have and the main and brand new, actually, over the last ten years, criticism of the media is that is regarded as partisan. And if you watch television, and if you watched the post-debate quarterbacking, you would see that that is absolutely true. Depending on where you tuned in, you had a completely different assessment of how the debaters did. So if Americans feel this way about their media, that they can't trust them to get the straight facts, then an attack like that of Palin's falls on very receptive years.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson :Language does our thinking for us. When the public doesn't have any sense about what's really going on, this is very confusing and very complicated. Framing matters. If this is described as a taxpayer bailout of Wall Street, it's not popular. If it's described as taxpayer investing in the well-being of the economy, it's far more a more positive. Now.
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