Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stop Bailout Madness

It is 8:00 pm Sunday as I write, and the politicians say they have struck a deal. Several have come out to explain what the deal is, but none of it makes any sense. Speaking for the House Democrats, Rahm Emanuel said that the bill exposes taxpayers to no risk "on the downside" and an opportunity "on the upside." What? So they aren't going to take any money from us after all? Somehow I doubt that's what he meant. Then David Boehner, speaking for the Republicans, made it sound like this plan follows the House Republicans' proposal: that it insures rather than bails and does not involve the government buying any bad assets. Again, I don't get it. That description doesn't sound very plausible. If it weren't for John McCain's intervention last week, the House Republicans, the politically weakest and most despised players in this scene, would not have been invited to the party at all. That the big boys would be doing things their way doesn't ring true. That's not how government works.

This seems to be the document, though I can't be sure. I'm getting ready to go to work in the morning and don't even have time to read the damn thing.*

I don't get it, except that I do know the following facts with a reasonable degree of probability:

First, this is a lot of money. Thomas Sowell put it this way:
Many people have trouble even forming some notion of what such numbers as billion and trillion mean. One way to get some idea of the magnitude of a trillion is to ask: How long ago was a trillion seconds? A trillion seconds ago, no one on this planet could read and write. Neither the Roman Empire nor the ancient Chinese dynasties had yet come into existence. None of the founders of the world’s great religions today had yet been born. That’s what a trillion means. Put a dollar sign in front of it and that’s what the current bailout may cost.
Second, this thing, whatever it is, was hatched in a closed meeting. It is not the product of a public discussion. The people have been completely excluded. This is democracy at its lowest ebb.

Third, it is a supposed solution to a profound economic problem, but in the pictures of the meeting I saw, there were no economists present. Not one. This was politicians negotiating about how a pie is to be cut up, and who will get to eat it.

Fourth, this plan is proactive. I have seen no evidence of a crisis on Main Street. I am the proud holder of a brand new Platinum Visa card from Washington Mutual. It was issued just weeks before WaMu became the biggest bank failure in American history. But as far as I know, my card still works. WaMu's failure is a bad thing for a lot of people, and I'm not minimizing that, but so far it has not affected its customers. If you are taking desperate measures to solve a critical problem, they should be solutions to a problem that exists, not one that might exist in the future. Bailout alarmism is like global warming alarmism for Republicans. It is another example of people trying to scare to poop out of us in order to get something out of us.

Finally, all of these people are obviously scared to death to vote for this thing. They jolly well ought to be. We should make sure to vote against every single lawmaker who votes for this, at least if they do so this week, without without real hearings. In that case we will know: it is time for revolutionary change.
* Added Later: Here is some poop on what the deal really means. Be sure to read the point-by-point comments in the "Update" section. They are dead on target.

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