Thursday September 25, 2008

As my mother can attest, I usually have a strong opinions about things and have always enjoyed a good argument.  So, under the inspiration of Dave Bjorlin, let’s throw caution to the wind, and turn this into a political/news blog.

Economic Bailout

I cannot express how frustrating this is to me.  Let’s look at all the zeros.  $700,000,000,000.  Some people predict it will be closer to $1,200,000,000,000 when all is said and done.  That’s a whole lot of money to spent on things no one else wants to buy.

Let me see if I understand this.  [Please note how literally every sentence makes you think ‘Boy, that seems problematic’ or ‘That sure was stupid’]  Banks give loans to people without regard to how much money they have or whether they can actually afford that loan.  Banks bundle, divide, split, repackage and sell these loans to other larger institutions as securities; no one really knows what they are anymore.  There is virtually no government oversight of these things, individual banks hire whoever they want to value these mortgage backed securities, and executives are motivated by massive benefits that reward short term success without regard to long term success or stability.  Housing bubble bursts; these homes and securities are suddenly: worth less than people paid for them, too expensive to afford, and nearly impossible to sell.

Thank goodness, government to the rescue!  Not to the home owners, but to the gigantic financial institutions deemed too large to fail.  The general consensus among people much smarter and better informed than I am is that this is really the only viable solution.  So, instead of questioning the whole bailout idea, I’ll raise questions about the terms of it and the accompanying political climate.

Specifics.  I wouldn’t be sickened and disenfranchised if the eventual bill that passes didn’t, at the very least, contain these provisions.  First, limit on executive pay and bonuses.  Make them give back what they greedily and stupidly took.  We take back people’s houses, let’s take back their bonuses.  If their company really needs this bailout, let’s make them crawl on their belly to get it.  Figuratively and literally.  Second, the government should buy these securities at rock bottom prices.  I guess that because no one wants to buy them, they are worth nothing, but I would be so frustrated if my government used my money to overpay these huge institutions just to give them some money to grease the wheels of our economy.  This should be painful.  Third, tighter regulations and increased government oversight.  This just makes sense.  More on this later.

General Political Climate.  What frightens me about the current situation is how typical of the Bush administration this is.  The nature and language of the proposed bill reveal how large of a power shift this is.  “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”  As John McCain said: “Trust me is not enough”.  The politics of fear and end-of-the-world-doom to push through legislation that later on is widely thought to be questionable at best – Iraq war, wire-tapping, Guantanamo bay – seems to be a trademark of this administration.  Another instance of the greatly expanded (usurped?) powers of the Executive branch.

John McCain/Sarah Palin

I think her appointment as VP is a joke.  The trooper-gate scandal that is being ignored in Alaska.  Her woeful – and comical – lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge.  The way the media is babying her, McCain and advisers are babysitting her, and the way the campaign cries whenever any one mentions her.  It’s a joke I’m alternatively laughing at and weeping over.

John McCain is certainly playing politics by threatening not to participate in the debate.  His only responsibility is to vote.  Nothing more.  And, I think he has only voted once in the last 110 opportunities.  Might this have more to do with the decline in the poll than the DOW Jones?  I think so.

Barack Obama/Joe Biden

I fear I’m veering a little too far to the left; let me air my grievances with the Democratic side.  Advantage or not, I’m disappointed he didn’t follow through on his promise to take public financing.  I wish he had agreed to more debates and townhall meetings with McCain.  Give the American people a chance to see you side by side as often as possible.  Obama’s global economic stance: limiting free trade agreements and increasing U.S. protectionism through tax breaks and subsidies is not the way to stay competitive in the increasingly globalized world.  It is better for America and the world to trade freely.  Let’s not stick our heads in the sand and pretend this is not happening; let’s forge a solution that is good for American workers, good for foreign workers, and good for the environment.

Wow. That was cleansing.  Hearty discussion welcomed.