Taxpayers could use a bailout

Oct. 6, 2008

by Ivan Raconteur

The recent shenanigans in Washington provide another example of our fearless leaders wanting us to trust them without asking any questions.

Fortunately, this time, it is proving more difficult to sell that scheme.

For some reason, people who are already being squeezed seem reluctant to endorse a $700 billion bailout plan for Wall Street.

There are a few salient points that the boys in the legislature seem not to understand.

First of all, many of us regular Joes wonder why there is such an urgency to fix things now, when those in positions of power have been ignoring the signs of impending doom for years and telling us things were going to be just fine.

The next thing that the boys in Washington don’t understand is that most working Americans are basically practical people.

We don’t want to work for an idiot, and we don’t want to work with idiots. If someone is not doing the job he was hired to do, we believe it is reasonable to weed him out and get someone in who can do the job.

It bothers us then, when Washington suggests that we should fork over billions of dollars and a whole lot of power to the same group of clowns who either got us into this mess, or stood by watching rather than providing oversight while it happened.

It grates on us when incompetence is rewarded in our own workplace, and it is worse when incompetence is rewarded using our tax dollars.

Proponents of the bailout plan warn us of dire consequences if we don’t blindly allow them to take drastic action immediately.

They threaten that we could face a recession or worse.

Politicians have been debating the recession question for months, but what they fail to realize is that working people have been living the recession all this time, and we don’t really care what they call it.

People are worried about losing their homes and their jobs, and many have already lost them.

These are not just speculators or get-rich-quick schemers; many of them are regular guys working hard and just trying to get by.

We have watched the price of everything from gas to energy to groceries to health care skyrocket while wages are stagnant and companies are laying off workers and not replacing those who leave.

We are worried not just about our immediate future, but about our long-term prospects, as we watch the value of our retirement accounts dry up like the remnants of summer flowers.

Many of us are left wondering where all this bailout money is coming from. We are told that there is no money to fix roads or bridges, or to fix the health care system, but the government can miraculously find billions of dollars to help certain businesses.

Taxpayers are expected to pony up $85 billion to prop up insurance giant American International Group (AIG).

Then, we are asked to fork over another $29 billion as a wedding present for Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase.

And, let’s not forget about the $25 billion or so the Fannie May and Freddie Mac affair could cost us.

Now, our brilliant statesmen are proposing to commit $700 billion to purchase “distressed mortgages.”

That doesn’t sound like a very good investment.

Wall Street and Washington have proved that they can’t handle our money very well. If the government has so much of the taxpayers’ dough burning a hole in its pocket, maybe it’s time to give the money back to the people who earned it in the first place and let us have a go. We can’t possibly make a bigger shambles of things than they have, and we might even make the situation better.

If working people were allowed to keep more of their paychecks instead of having Uncle Sam picking our pockets every time we turn around, there might not be a credit crisis. We could pay our mortgages and buy more goods and services, and that has got to be a better way to stimulate the economy than providing kickbacks to millionaires.

Another irksome message coming out of Washington is the insistence that now is not the time to assign blame for the financial debacle.

Why not, is what I want to know. If you or I make a mess of something, we will certainly be held accountable, so why not the fellows on Wall Street or in Washington? Don’t they deserve the same treatment?

This may not help to fix the predicament we are in, but it might at least make the rest of us feel better.

In business, there should be no expectation of profit without the risk of loss, yet more and more companies seem to think that the taxpayers should reward them for their greed and incompetence. Enough is enough. It is time to let them fail.

There is plenty of blame to go around. There are people who bought houses they couldn’t afford and people who lived far beyond their means. These people are feeling the sting of the collapse, and those who encouraged or enabled this to happen should be equally penalized.

It seems that no matter what happens in Congress, we can all look forward to some further belt-tightening and darker days ahead.

I am not a vindictive man, but if I end up standing in some bread line one day soon, I hope to see some discredited financial wizards and at least a few politicians standing in line in front of me.

If, as the Washington crowd would have us believe, the ship is sinking, we might as well all go down together.

It doesn’t seem right for government to snatch the last few dollars out of the hands of struggling taxpayers to buy a lifeboat for the pirates who were at the helm when the ship ran onto the rocks in the first place.

No doubt they would like to sail off into the sunset while the rest of us sink beneath the waves, but we don’t have to go without a fight.

We need to send a message to our elected officials. If they want to bail someone out, they should start with the taxpayers, not the special interests.