Thursday, September 25, 2008

False dichotomy

So Dubya was all over teh teevee last night mongering fear. Again. The sky is falling (even though the economy was strong just last month) and something drastic must be done. Everyone knows the story by now: we absolutely must give $700 billion to Henry Paulson immediately so he can save us all from imminent disaster, nevermind that he helped create this whole mess in the first place, both as CEO of Goldman Sachs and as Secretary of the Treasury. It's the way Republicans do government: they allow the people who create problems, due to either gross incompetence or willful action, to determine and implement the solutions to the problems they themselves created. If Paulson gets his way, what he will do with this money will be left to his sole discretion, and Congress won't even be allowed to ask because we're told that doing so would hinder the recovery process. Or something.

The choices are clear, Bush and his merry band of thieves are telling us: we must either give a huge pile of American taxpayer dollars to Wall Street -- even to the banks and investment houses that have been successful, and to foreign banks -- so they can continue the party, or they will wage a scorched earth campaign on the economy. This is a false dilemma. We are going to have a major recession as a result of their planned meltdown and there's nothing we can do about it. Giving $700 billion to Wall Street won't prevent that. This raid on the treasury is just Dubya's parting gift to the ultra wealthy. It will also have the effect of preventing the next president from pursuing his agenda since there simply won't be any money left because the "fiscal conservatives" have bankrupted the entire country. By the way, that $700 billion figure, by Treasury's own admission, was pulled out of someone's ass because they just wanted to choose a really large number.

I say don't give them a damn penny. It's their mess, let them clean it up. The fact is, Wall Street neither needs nor deserves a bail out. Many smart financial experts, including Warren Buffet, warned years ago that derivatives were "financial weapons of mass destruction", but their words were ignored because they were immensely profitable. Wall Street is trying to use this crisis (and it really is a crisis) to further increase their already massive wealth when we pay for the clean up. These people are flush with cash.

Just last year, Wall Street’s top five financial firms — including names such as Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns — awarded $39 billion in bonuses at a time when stockholder value in those companies fell by $74 billion.
Read that again: $39 billion in bonuses were paid to Wall Street's top five financial firms last year. And now they say they need a bailout? I don't think so. They're just holding a gun to our collective heads. This is nothing but extortion, plain and simple.

A recession is coming. Giving more money to Wall Street will do nothing but prevent those of us most affected by their greed from weathering the coming storm.

No comments: