Monday, September 22, 2008

Crisis Mismanagement

It seems to me that the "bailout" legislation the Administration is demanding Congress pass without changes, add-ons, or even debate can be summed up in a phrase we have either used or heard in our own lives - "Of course I'll respect you in the morning." Now, this statement implies a certain amount of respect at the time it is stated, which should be, quite obviously, considered false.

Bush is demanding no oversight, no judicial review, no punitive measures, no regulatory scheme, nothing at all but the purchase of what has become known as toxic assets. Without review, without careful consideration, without delay. In the middle of a hotly contested Presidential election season. At a time when Presidential poll numbers still have not climbed above 30%. At a point when it should be abundantly clear these people should not be trusted, not only because they are criminally duplicitous, but laughably incompetent. If Congress were smart, and run by people with even a modicum of intelligence, they would simply grin politely at the Administration and say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

But . . . But . . . the Administration will sputter that something has to be done. Or else Western Civilization will end.


Indeed, a good question at this point would be, if you think government should step in now to prevent such a collapse, would you be willing to allow certain regulatory measures as would prevent such an occurrence in the first place? To reiterate - Glass-Steagall was in place for 60-odd years, and we managed to avoid the kind of financial meltdown we saw last week. In only nine year after its repeal via Gramm-Leach, we are at a point where the credit markets, for all practical purposes, have ceased to function. If Congress said now, and the Administration threw a tantrum, Congress should say, "Only if Glass-Steagall is reinstituted, punitive measures against CEOs are enforced, the are guarantees for homeowners, extended unemployment insurance, and other measures."

It is unfortunate that this had to occur in the middle of a Presidential campaign, particularly one in which one of the candidates in question has a little problem telling the truth (McCain/Palin), and an even bigger problem understanding how we arrived at this particular juncture in the first place (McCain/Palin). I say "unfortunate" because were we in a less silly, less fevered, less fabulist time, we might actually be able to accomplish something constructive. We might also be able to do something if the people in charge were honest or competent. They are neither. Nor are they to be trusted. It seems to me that we should simply let the chips fall where they may for now, and wait until after Congress reconvenes in January with new members and a new President. The world isn't going to collapse between now and then, after all.

Not a dime to these people. Not one. Shiny. Thin. Dime.

Virtual Tin Cup

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