Bailing Out

September 25, 2008

The talk in Congress about the financial mess is very interesting in the way it obscures some basic ideas.  People act as though this is strictly a practical matter, a non-partisan, non-political, time-to-stop-arguing, let’s fix it now! question of simple financial mechanics.  In other words, there’s no ideology, no politics involved – just not relevant.

Well, a few criticisms of the plan that I’ve heard, particularly the comments of a former Secretary of the Treasury and one excellent letter to the NYTimes today, make me think otherwise.  The basic question is this:  If the problem was brought on by speculating in sub-prime mortgages, why not prop up those mortgages?  Pour money into the bottom, not the top.  Subsidize Main Street, not Wall Street?  If we bail out financial service firms, and home prices continue to drop, the USA, that’s us, will be left holding the empty bag. 

Could it be that it is more efficient to pour money in the top, to stabilize the markets, to restore confidence, to unfreeze the credit realm, and thus benefit all Americans by making the economy function again.  Could it be that time is of the essence? 

Or could it be that guaranteeing mortgages would also send a salutary shock into the system that would achieve the same thing, but it offends so many, especially Paulson and GWB, because it is bypasses Wall Street?

One person said that bailing out Wall Street this way by pouring in money is like filling a leaky bucket.  The bad mortgages are what’s draining the bucket.

Meanwhile, check out this wonderful animated tour of the Subprime Mortgage Mess.


WORST PRESIDENT EVER!

September 19, 2008

Train wreck …as metaphor, from Wikipedia:

The term is sometimes used metaphorically to describe a disaster that is foreseeable but unavoidable.

I sing to you of the presidency of George W. Bush:

  • I sing to you of hanging chads and a Supreme Court putsch…
  • Of the black day, September 11th, and a leader caught in the headlights of history I sing…
  • Of Hank Kissinger, proposed for a truth-finding commission, a divine oxymoron, I do raise my voice…
  • Of bullhorns, and tyrant mayor wannabees, and bloody shirts innumerable waved in flapping breezes unending…
  • Of “Swiftboating” skillful, I marvel and sing…
  • I sing to you of “Kenny Boy Lay” and Enron…
  • I sing to you of Dick Cheney intoning on the free market as emails plot market skullduggery…
  • I sing to you of fraudulent yellow cake and weapons of mass destruction unfound…
  • I sing to you of smoking gun mushroom clouds, and preemption extraordinary…
  • Yea, I sing to you of shock and awe gone shockingly awful…
  • Of Abu Ghraib…
  • Of Baghdad looting…
  • …and of Mission Accomplished I sing…
  • I do sing of Brownie doing a “helluva job” in the Crescent City…
  • Of torture made legal…
  • Of habeus corpus suspended…
  • Of secrets unknown and unknowable…
  • Of science denied, and malarky made policy…
  • Of history denied, I sing…
  • Of Ken Delay…of partisan firings unjust…of regulation defanged I sing
  • And lo, I now sing of economic meltdown, the fitting finis to a sing-song dirge I do sing…

Let us chant together with Clio, History’s muse:

worst president ever!
Worst President Ever!
WORST PRESIDENT EVER!
WORST PRESIDENT EVER!