I wanted to call this post "Throw the Bums Out!" but decided to go with the "Coming Soon" title listed above. Ether way, things are looking pretty grim, and I just have to go there. Sorry.
I have a few pet peeves about all of this economic nonsense, and I'll start with what Congress did (or didn't do) yesterday. It's my belief that Monday's controversial bill failed to pass because some incumbent Republicans and Dems were afraid they wouldn't get re-elected if they voted for the infamous bail-out. Apparently, huge percentages of their constituencies have been flooding their offices with demands that the bill not be supported. This brings me to a truly puzzling question: Do these people simply not see the overall picture? And if they do, why would they select venting their spleen over preventing our country from falling flat on its face economically? (Which it already has done and is bound to continue doing if our timid, self-serving reps in Washington succeed in derailing this thing.)
Don't get me wrong. I don't like the bail-out bill either. I'm angry at the bail-out, and I'm angry at the conditions that made the bail-out necessary. No one wishes more than I do that we had time to fix this from the bottom up, but the credit crisis makes immediate action a must. I'm big on ideology, but this is a time to be pragmatic. The ideological discussions can come later.
I want to make the point that I completely understand the whole "not wanting to reward or enable the fat cats on Wall Street" mentality. I've always been a big believer in letting those who make poor choices experience the natural consequences of those choices. In fact, that was my parenting philosophy...and my husband's, too. Our support of natural consequences for our children was unanimous. We did have one caveat, though. In the event the natural consequences generated were dangerous or destructive, we would then do everything in our power to help our kids avoid them, applying appropriate, parent-made consequences of our own instead. This dynamic didn't come around all that often (natural consequences were usually safe), but it did happen on occasion, and we acted accordingly.
The big wheeler-dealers and investment bankers, etc. should be handled the same way. Allowing the whole financial system to crumble and leaving no means of accessing credit for individuals and small businesses is too high a price to pay for applying the natural consequence model of discipline to these greedy gluttons. Instead, limit their pay (they'll hate that), put an end to their golden parachutes (their worst nightmare), and provide more oversight and regulation (the bane of their existence). There's more than one way to skin a cat, right? (My apologies in advance to cat-loving readers for choosing this particular idiom, but it's the best fit.)
I'm also annoyed at the following people or groups in relation to the bill and events leading up to it: Nancy Pelosi for the pre-vote diatribe that ruffled Republican feathers; any Republicans who allowed ruffled feathers to influence their votes; Congress in general for the Freddie and Fannie debacle and the current blame game in which they are indulging (Republicans and Dems are both culpable, so get over it!); news commentators who, until yesterday, were doing a poor job of explaining the link between the situation on Wall Street, small businesses, and every individual on every street in America; President Bush for being relatively ineffectual (haven't heard his speech yet this morning and hope he can do a better job of outlining the dangers to ALL of us); and Secretary Paulson for not seeing this whole thing coming and taking earlier action. My own husband has been warning of this situation for two years. Why couldn't Paulson see it coming? (That may be a whole other post.)
Two more groups I'm annoyed with...unethical lenders (who made bad loans to enrich themselves) and unethical borrowers (who took out loans they knew they could not afford, simply because unethical lenders were willing to make those loans). Where's the personal responsibility in all this? All I hear are newscasters and journalists bemoaning the fate of these poor, helpless, (implication, stupid?) Americans who were duped by the mean old lenders. I agree that the lenders were way out in left field making these loans available, but no borrower was forced to sign on the dotted line. Come on. Aren't the citizens of the United States intelligent enough to know when they can't afford a big payment? Don't they have enough sense to realize they can't just charge everything they want for the rest of their lives? Can't they figure out that they need to wait to buy something until they can afford something? If not, they'd better figure it out, and they are going to get a serious opportunity to do so under the current economic conditions.
I don't like the bail-out either, but confidence needs to be shored up, and we're in dire straits. My hope (and I'm only marginally optimistic) is that both sides in Congress will get together and come up with something we can all live with. Confidence must be increased, the credit freeze must end, and stability need to be restored, but that will be just the beginning. The next few years will require all of us and our government to tighten our belts, pay our debts, and make some sacrifices for the good of this country. Enough said.