The first is snide, the second sincere.
1) Bush, and Bush cronies, run into the streets screaming, “Oh my GOD, the world is about to end, right now, this very second. If you want to feel safe and secure you must pass this bill which grants me/my cronies massive amounts of power immediately. Do not read it, vote yea!” Then, rather than laughing them out of D.C., they are taken seriously by the press, a hefty portion of the House and, apparently, the majority of the Senate. And then, the people did not rise up and burn D.C. to the ground. Seriously? How much further do I need to stretch my suspension of disbelief in order to swallow reality?
2) I am not an economist, and everything I know about big “E” economics I learned from listening to real economists talk, usually on the radio, but it seems like there are a few things most people not corporate executives or national politicians are agreeing on. First, we would not be in this mess if deregulation hadn’t happened. Whether the periods of huge economic successes we’ve had in the last 20-25 years would have still happened is hotly contested, but we can save that argument for some time when people have money. Second, the financial sector dug the hole their in now, they’re rotting in it, and that’d be fine except they’re taking most everybody with them. People can’t get loans to buy the cheap houses to end that part of the fiasco, business owners can’t get lines of credit to buy stuff to turn around and sell, etc. etc. So, is there a reason that the only solution to the problem is to dig the financial sector out of its hole? Couldn’t the government step in as an interim financial sector to keep the non-foolhardy portions of the economy running while Wall Street takes its proper lickin’? I generically lean against a bailout on principle, but I wouldn’t do much more than roll my eyes if, say, the government bought imminently foreclosing mortgages and renegotiated reasonable terms, and starting giving lines of credit to small businesses. That shouldn’t be very expensive, and ought to grease the economic gears a bit. There’d need to be a hard time limit on it, say three years, (to give Wall Street a job again, and stop the rising scourge of Socialism) but wouldn’t that make more sense and still let us have our sexy, sexy free markets? Or am I missing something I’d know about if I’d opted for Economics instead of Linguistics?
2.1) Just a thought on the bigger issue, this seems like a problem stemming from an upside down system. The financial sector depends on commercial deposits and little people buying/saving stuff in order to run. It then uses that stuff to create lots of phantom ways of producing more money out of it which makes the financial people very wealthy without helping out the people the money actually belongs to until you get to secondary and tertiary consequences a la more rich people means cheaper luxury goods etc. Since the people doing the phantom trading (lady on NPR called it the shadow economy tonight. That has a really nice ring, but accidentally implies Black Market in my mind) effectively own the gears, grease, and muscle of the economy we get in a situation where their bankruptcy bankrupts the people supporting them, which is all sorts of wacky and backwards. In the meantime, as pointed out by a guy on NPR who did a nice job of intelligently discussing things I’ve been dully pondering, we’ve had legitimate real-world goods and services, like bridges and technological developments necessary for getting off oil and not becoming the backwater of the West go completely neglected. By and large, the people putting the money in at the bottom would like sound bridges and internet access that doesn’t suck, but they don’t have the power to nudge the people higher up in the financial ladder into playing that that stuff instead of ghost numbers on paper. If we were talking about the government we’d boot these assholes out of office come election, but there’s no similar check to the power of the financial sector (nor should there be). So how do we rig it to make investing in a bridge more fun than bundling overprice mortgages without the government wagging its finger and commanding it to be so? Aside from the hope that Wall Street will learn from its supreme stupidity and play smarter next time, that is. I’m in a “People are too fucking stupid to learn anything,” mood these days, so I’m thinking we need something else. As I can only parrot back sound-bite economic theory, I haven’t got the first clue what, though. I dislike not knowing the answer; it precludes me from being right about it. Oh, and I take issue to guy-on-NPR’s implication that the reason the bail out has me foaming at the mouth is pure malice. I believe in consequences for your actions as a deterrent for bad behavior, and I object to anybody getting out of those important lessons just because they’re so darned important. Wall Street might be the star quarterback of this national high school, but inflating their grades to keep them on the team is still wrong. Believe me, if I were feeling malicious there’d be some clear malice involved.