Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why Is This So Hard for John O’Brien To Grasp

I attack John O’Brien, I do. And I do baselessly, without any real justification other than he seems to be in charge of spouting nonsense on CNN in the mornings. So I attack – kid, really. And I kid with nothin’ but love, baby.

All news and public discourse has been cancelled and replaced with the words “$700 Billion Bail-Out.” Oh sure, sometimes one hears, “Wall St. CEOs” or “Wall Street to Main Street,” but the basic message is the same: Crisis! Panic! Need Trillions Now!

There seems a quite unexpected backlash forming and ready to strike back in the form of truly arch speeches, commentary and letters to the editor. (And if you think one Adolph Q. Hitler would have been able to stand up to invective like that, you’ve got another thing coming, buster.

Atrios is promoting a speech from a Congresswoman who clearly explains in terms most kindergartners could understand why the Bail-Out That Ate Cable TV News is a hoax. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D, OH (Toledo) was on the floor of the US House of Represenatives making sense. (It may be that a permit is required for this. I don’t really know.) Watch it:

This current crisis just the first of several. While it may the largest in terms of money, the others will consume overall the vast majority of our tax dollars. Requests for additional bail-outs are coming from the auto industry, the airline/travel industry, and likely the Land of Farming before long.

As Obama has said of our foreign policy thinking, it is well-past time for us to end the mindset that makes these bail-outs possible. If a private sector actor is in need of financial aid, why don’t we look at it as an investment. We should be willing to lend money, or guarantee money, or as here just give it away, only when the benefits are clearly defined in a hard, quantitative manner, with clear lines of responsibility for ensuring a meaningful degree of accountability for the promised results.

That doesn’t seem so hard, now does it? If the nice people at our nation’s banks (meaning of course any bank or sort-of bank with employees here, even if its shareholders are an ocean away) want some taxpayer money, what are they willing to offer? Can they promise a certain number of new jobs? Guarantees of maintaining existing levels of jobs? Increasing wages? Lower prices (and how much lower)?

I am obviously no expert in this area, but the older I get the more I am learning to trust my own judgment and common sense. And for the life of me I cannot understand why our leading politicians and other leaders (and Tom Brokaw, I’m looking at you) cannot summon the courage to call “BS” on a proposal as half-baked as this.

If an educational official showed up and day and said, “Quick, I need a half-trillion by next Tuesday, or else all of your children are gonna wind up dumber than rocks,” they’d be laughed right out of town. The request for an infusion of money into the financial sector may well have an element of actual need, perhaps even an element of urgency. But if either of these things are true, we’re gonna need more than President Paulson’s word on it.

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