26 September 2008

The Bail Out to End All Bail Outs?

Soon our elected representatives will vote for an extremely large plan to help the struggling financial markets in the United States. The urgency has been made clear by Treasury Secretary Paulson and President Bush. It is obvious that such a plan is needed in order to make sure that businesses can continue operating as intended. However, there should be sufficient concern with the haste that this plan is being put together. Through this urgency and typical partisan politics a great opportunity to make sure we do this the right way the first time will surely be missed.

The bail out must contain, at a minimum, the following four key items:

1. There should be crystal clear transparency into how this money is used and to what companies this money goes to. This is a gamble with an extraordinary sum of money that our children and grandchildren will be beholden to pay off. We cannot afford to let it be used without knowing how and why and where.

2. There should be no compensation (i.e., golden parachutes) for the executives that have been at the helm of any companies receiving government-funded help. They were the leaders and they should be held accountable for their actions. Through their actions they will also likely cause thousands of Americans to lose their jobs. There should be no reward for landing their companies in the positions they are in.

3. If any profits (highly unlikely) are realized from this venture they should, first and foremost, be used to pay down the national debt, which is almost $10 trillion. No profit should be used to justify more spending or tax cuts or more risky government programs. The only place that profits shall go is to reduce the debt burden on future generations of Americans.

4. The government should enforce the existing rules and regulations or create new ones to prevent this from happening again. The idea that everyone should own on a home is a good one, but we need to make sure that people buying homes can afford them, can prove that they can afford them and understand what they are getting into. This crisis has been largely created as a result of congress men and women letting politics cloud judgment. The full extent of the law should be used to prevent discrimination of race, religion, etc. being used to prevent someone from securing a home loan. However, this notion has been abused to the extent loans are given to people who simply could not afford them.

The bail out will likely happened whether the majority of the American people are pissed off by it or not (it’s torches and pitchforks time people!). In my opinion we are propping up a bubble built with made up money with more made up money. The end result may be far worse than if we had just let the bubble burst to begin with. Something about this whole situation just plain stinks and makes me feel dirty.

I am not sure most Americans understand the gravity of the situation. We are at a key turning point in this country; we may not recover from the fine mess Congress and the President has created. More than the executives of these failing firms, we should blame our elected officials for allowing this to occur in the first place. While playing politics like kids play house they failed to realize what is more important than being a democrat or republican and that is being an American.

Photo by KCThinker, Passage in San Juan, Puerto Rico

No comments: