Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Rambling on the economy

Like a lot of people I'm confused about the economy. I've seen the news that Wall Street is in a mess and banks are on the verge of collapse but what does it really mean? We are told that we need to act fast in order to get this under control and restore some semblance of order to the chaos. Supposedly this crisis came about because of the housing bubble, bad lending practices and a lack of confidence in the markets. Back in October Congress pushed through a bailout package and gave banks some $350 billion dollars in order to get credit flowing. Congress forgot to put any limitations, restrictions or accounting procedures in place so that banks would have to report on how they are using the money. Now we hear that the banks refuse to tell Congress how they have utilized these funds. What?!!? Now that takes some gall. Why isn't Congress telling these yahoos to give the money back if they don't want to account for it? Why is Congress, the President, et. al. pushing to give these clowns even more money? Didn't they ever hear the old adage: "Once burned, twice learned."?

It doesn't seem like anyone has taken the time to investigate exactly what is going on with the economy. We are treated to a bunch of meaningless phrases like "money is in short supply, banks have tightened credit and the market is suffering from a lack of confidence"--what does any of it mean? No one has come forward to educate the public as to the need for the stimulus package. We have the same old players who got us into this mess offering the same old bromides and hysterically insisting that something has to be done quickly. I'm not falling for it.

Why should we be bailing out the buffoons who got us into this situation? Where are all of the "free marketers" who kept yammering to keep government out of their business? Why not let the free market decide who fails and who survives? That is the point of the free market system, isn't it? Ever since Reagan these yahoos have been saying that they need less regulation, the market knows best and only the strong will survive. Okay, let's let them live up to their philosophy. Why are they looking to the government for a bailout? Why shouldn't the public be telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? That's the line they gave us during the various recessions since the Reagan years. Give them a taste of their own medicine, see how they like it.

But here's the real killer; Congress would have us believe that they are somehow going to get us out of this mess. These are the same bad actors who got us to this point in the first place. We are supposed to have faith that after all these years the same guys who were legislating deregulation, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, promoting trade schemes that sold off our manufacturing plants to foreign countries, giving no-bid contracts, contracting out every conceivable job and basically selling our country down the tubes have now suddenly seen the light and are going to make things right. How are they going to do this? By printing more money and pushing for more tax cuts! Wasn't it the tax cuts that got us here in the first place? Won't printing more money lead to inflation and a higher deficit?

I'll be the first to admit that my education in economics is lacking. I'm from that old school where you pay cash and only go into debt when you have a reasonable expectation of being able to pay off whatever loans you take out. I didn't get the memo after 9/11 to go on a decades long shopping binge. I didn't go out and purchase one of those McMansions. I didn't go out with a credit card and buy a bunch of stuff that I didn't need. If I signed a contract, I lived up to the terms of that contract and paid on it until all of my obligations were met. I can't believe that I'm the only person who handled my finances in such a manner. There has to be millions of people out there who paid off their debts, saved for a rainy day and lived within their means. So why are we being asked to pay for the irresponsibility of others? Whatever happened to "You made your bed, now lie in it."?

I think it would behoove all of us if someone would sit down and explain in layman's terms precisely why it is necessary for us to go into hock for generations to come. Why should we be bailing out people who of their own volition went in way over their heads? Why should we subsidize the greed and incompetence of CEO's, banks and anyone else caught up in this fiasco?

Is there a pressing need to hurry through legislation that may strangle us for the foreseeable future? Why can't we think on this for awhile and see where we're at when the dust settles? They keep saying that banks won't lend. Okay, how long can they keep from lending? How long can the banks survive without lending money? How long can they not make money by not lending? Maybe it's time to hold their feet to the fire. Sooner or later they'll have to lend money. It's the only way they can continue to survive. If they just sit on the money they'll be writing their own death certificates and have nobody to blame but themselves.

So maybe there's other reasons for the rush to throw money at all of these institutions. What could it be? Political cronyism? A chance for the politicians to give back to their supporters? Look at the first bailout. It didn't get passed until it included provisions to give money to bat makers, rum producers and a whole list of other equally dubious recipients. If it were truly dire needs driving that legislation there shouldn't have been a need for earmarks.

Maybe it's time for a people's march on Washington. Maybe if a couple of million people showed up on Congress' doorstep and demanded an end to politics as usual we could get their attention and have them do the work of the people.


  1. just a test .......... see if it 'passes'. :)

  2. WOO-HOO! finally got it figured out! great post, jim ...........

    but ... now i'm gonna get my christian louboutin fix at neiman's, my david yurman fix at sak's, and sip a ginormous latte while doing it! what? SOMEONE has to help the economy ~ might as well be 'moi'!


  3. Okay, here goes. I will figure this out.

  4. Just a few random thoughts. Could be that Cheney is holed up right here in Wyoming. I don't really care what he says one way or the other. Russia is really flexing their muscles right now, and seems to be the country to watch. Rush Limbaugh is too far right even for a conservative like me. TARP should be changed to TAFL - Take a flying leap. That's how I feel about what's been done with the money so far. Not sure about the stimulus plan helping, but what I am sure about is that there is plenty of pork for everyone in it - Dems and Repubs alike. If the bill passes, I hope it doesn't take too long for the average person to see some relief.