I know a lot more about indie rock than I do about economics and financing. And frankly, I'd rather be blogging about that great new Doll Test record than about the current horrendous state of our economy. But today, I write because this is serious shit that requires immediate action.
Today, our government is asking for a $700 billion dollar loan from us, the taxpayers, to bail out our devastated financial markets. That's scary, but necessary. The scarier part? They want that money with no strings attached: no Congressional oversight, no legal review, no accountability at all.
These are the same leaders who got us in this mess in the first place; why the hell would be willing to give them $700 billion and trust them to do the right thing behind closed doors, where not even a court of law could go? Unbelievable.
My smart pal Richard Law wrote an email this morning, explaining the situation in a bit more detail, including what we should do to take action. Have a read:
Hello everyone – as soon as sometime today the federal government (Democrats & Republicans together) are getting ready to commit your personal future indebtedness of about $5,600 each (before interest – after interest it’ll be closer to $15,000 for every adult U.S. citizen) in order that they might buy bad debt from all the major banks. What this means is that the banks who loaned people money on subprime mortgages will now be completely off the hook (they’ll get to keep their interest, commissions, bonuses, etc. generated from those bad loans) while we and our children will be on the hook for dealing with tens of thousands of foreclosed homes, the lost value in those homes between the top of the market and now, etc.
In our own self-interest as taxpayers, I personally feel it is essential that as many people as possible contact their senators (http://www.senate.gov) and representatives (http://www.house.gov) today and strongly encourage them to make this bailout of the banks loans to the banks (that they – and their shareholders and execs must repay) rather than an offer to buy bad debt (that we must repay in future taxes and/or decreases in services). Make no mistake: this package as currently written will take a trillion dollars away from our country’s future ability to do everything from provide education and healthcare to field effective armed services and/or will result in massive future tax increases in order that these banks’ unfettered greed and incredibly reckless management might go unpunished and the sky appear rosy once more.
It’s true that the banking system needs liquidity right now – it needs to have enough money to service its debts (which is why we should loan it money – just as it loans us money when we need it), but if we simply take all of those debts off their books and give them a “do over” on our dime then we’re giving them a free pass to come up with the next iteration of financial recklessness secure in the knowledge that we taxpayers will be there with a blank check to cover their misdeeds.
In the end, it’s the banks’ responsibility to manage themselves out of this mess with a loan from us, NOT A GIFT – please just remember how your bank would react were the shoe on the other foot – they wouldn’t hesitate a moment to collect from you in any way they could, yet now they insist it is our duty to right their wrongs. We need to resist this with everything we’ve got so that both the financial system and politicians on both sides of the aisle understand that we’re awake and paying attention.
I think this last line is the most important of all, so I'm going to call it out again:
We need to resist this with everything we’ve got so that both the financial system and politicians on both sides of the aisle understand that we’re awake and paying attention.
I know it's easy to fog out when the news is about stuff that seems incomprehensible and so removed from our daily lives, especially when you're not personally invested in stocks and home ownership. Frankly, I think Bush and Paulson et al are counting on the fact that we're not paying attention.
Prove them wrong. Call, or send your senator or congress-person an email, and tell them you are NOT OKAY with giving the monkeys in the White House a blank check to clean up their financial mess. Demand accountability!
I just did.
If you live in Washington, you can call Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray right here:
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Patty Murray
OK, now I'm back to go listen to that Doll Test CD again…