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Blog item: Just Say 'No' to Henry Paulson. Do Wolves Protect the Lambs?

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9 comments, last: Sep-26-2008   Add a comment   Author:  PT (Sep-23-2008)    Play a Video
Categories: Economic/Financial, Political, Population Growth and Control, Sustainable Living

Wolves rarely take good care of lambsShould we give Henry Paulson and George Bush nearly unlimited power to give out $700 billion dollars as they see fit?  Do they have your best interests in their hearts, or are they looking after the interests of banking and investing friends and the trickle-down economy?  I know my answer to that question.  And to be fair, they do not need to see themselves as wolves in order to act like wolves.  The vision of government and leadership to which they subscribe is simply destructive to people and to the planet.

Going beyond those generalizations, the issue here is substitution.  That is, the question we are being told to answer is "How do we preserve the current financial system with minimum disturbance?".  The rush to take Congressional action and vote on this is part of the attempt to avoid the real question: "Should the United States support the current financial system, with its focus on perpetual growth and a self-contained, self-referential world of money that controls much of this country?"  What system is really best for us?  If we vote the $700 billion into the hands of Paulson and the president, we lose a once-in-a-century chance to re-evaluate and perhaps choose to change the "game".

Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s changed many of the rules of the game.  He began Social Security to give people a safety net.  Many government jobs were created to improve national infrastructure while providing positive work and income for the unemployed.  If we are given a few days to think, what would we come up with?

There are financial experts (and I am not an expert) who have stated that we should allow the system to work itself out now.  Is it better to slather Elmer's glue all over our current house of cards, or to build a real house after the current house collapses?  Is the unprecedented concentration of wealth in the hands of the top few percent a healthy situation for society - even for those bloated super-rich?

A bailout that will reinforce the abuses by the wealthy financial section and that will burden tax payers with a trillion dollars of added debt (at least), does not seem to me like much of a solution.

What if we abandoned perpetual growth as a model for society and the economy?  What if we lived closer to the planet and with an understanding of the true value of each natural resource?  I am a business person, and I am not against business and capitalism.  But I am against run-away, unregulated, winner-takes-all capitalism.  That is what we have had for the last eight years, and to some extent for even the last 30 years.  If we lived with a true economy, where each action was recognized by its true cost to the environment as well as to human commerce, then the planet would start to repair itself, as natural systems recovered.

Heaven help us if we actually think about where we are and how we got there!  No, let's quickly throw the $700 billion into the hands of those who got us to where we are right now.  They will know how to help us all.  Yes, sure.

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Comment by: City Worker (Sep-26-2008)   
I got an email the other day from Motley Fool Co-Founder, Tom Gardner, in favor of having the government Treasury "invest in assets that are crushing bank balance sheets", but urging people to urge our people in Congress to give the taxpayer equity stakes in those banks. I’m really not sure what this means: it looks like maybe this means the banks will become partially nationalized, which doesn’t seem like the greatest of things. However, it does seem like the government/taxpayer should get something in return for giving out money, and the banks shouldn’t just get money and then be in a position to do “business as usual.”
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Sep-25-2008)   Web site

My impression is that the government could tax those who do NOT earn over $250,000 in order to raise the money, over the next 20 years. But if the Republicans are elected, they will not do a direct tax -- no, they could cut funding for medicare (or at least try to do so). The only other major cut in federal expenses that could be made is the military. Everything else, except the interest on our debt, is very small.

This seems to be a scheme for the super-rich to stay super-rich (give them $700 billion), and for everyone else to sink deeper into a hole. The modifications the Congress proposed seem like a move in the right direction, but I wonder if they have gone far enough. They should have complete control of the money, anyway, not a Bush appointee. And breaking it into much smaller chunks seems wise as well.
Comment by:  Wavehunter (William Coffin) (Sep-25-2008)   Web site

It seems to me that either the banks go bankrupt (and perhaps they deserve it), or the state does. After all, how will the US government fund the bailout? If they taxed the rich it might make sense, but I imagine they'll instead borrow from foreigners or, as Zev says, print more dollars. (Thereby devaluing the currency and causing inflation.)

My fear is that when foreign companies and governments ask for their money back (I understand the US public debt is already close to $1 trillion), Washington will say 'no'. And who will stop them? Perhaps this is the reason the US spends more on defence than the next 30 countries combined.
Comment by:  zpaiss (Zev Paiss) (Sep-25-2008)   Web site

This entire tirade sound eerily like the calls to action prior to the Iraq war. WMD's and fear for our lives are again center stage and this time the solution is to print another $700,000,000,000 dollars and bail out the banks. I say no way!!!!!
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Sep-24-2008)   Web site

Oh, I see. So in your first comment, CW, you meant that taking care of Fannie/Freddie already made inroads to solving of the problem. I think what Krugman said, as you quoted him, does make sense. This rush to throw $700 billion into the hands of one financier, with his pre-set way of seeing the world, seems like a very risky idea.
Comment by: City Worker (Sep-23-2008)   

I see I’ve don’t really have an answer, and misunderstood (maybe still misunderstand) your question. Maybe this is closer to answering your question: Paul Krugman, on the New Hour with Jim Lehrer (this is from the Online NewsHour) said the following:
…it's worth taking some time to do it right. And we should say that the most critical credit market, which is the home mortgage market, has actually already been rescued. We just nationalized Fannie and Freddie.
And so I think we have a little more leeway. I think that we need to cool this a little bit and say, "Yes, OK, we're going to do this, but it doesn't have to be this week
Comment by: City Worker (Sep-23-2008)   

Hmm. You've got me there. You seem to want a laissez-faire approach by the government in dealing with the mess we are in. The rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is the reverse. I suppose I'm saying that if we accept that the government should be helping out, the next question might be: how much, and in what way? I guess I'm saying that the government has already stepped in a lot to alleviate the financial mess, and maybe we should slow down a bit and think things through before throwing $700 billion around.
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Sep-23-2008)   Web site

What kind of inroads?
Comment by: City Worker (Sep-23-2008)   

I don't know the answer. I think it's pretty complicated and requires a lot of careful thought. But I did hear someone give their opinion today that what has been done with respect to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made, already, substantial inroads into the whole thing.

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About author/contributor Member: PT (David Alexander) PT (David Alexander)
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Member: PT (David Alexander) My lifelong pursuit, since age 18, has been to live more fully and find wisdom. This has involved studies with Zen masters, Tai Chi masters, and great psychotherapists while achieving my license as a gestalt therapist and psychoanalyst.

Along the way, I became aware of how the planet is under great stress due to the driven nature of human activity on this planet.

I believe that the advancement of human well-being will reduce societies addictive behaviors, and will thus also help preserve the environment and perhaps slow down the effects of global warming and other major threats to the health of human societies.

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