Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where Does It End?

The CEOs of the big three U.S. automakers were on Capitol Hill the last couple of days pleading for $25 billion more taxpayer money--$25 billion has already been appropriated--to just tide them over this little rough spot they're having. Well, hell, no is what I say. No way.

Timothy Egan in the Times today asks the same question lots of us have: Where does all this end? What about all the cities large and small who are going or already have gone bankrupt? What about all the mid-sized businesses? What about Mom and Pop? What other big business cannot testify, as Detroit does, that millions of others depend upon them, that their supply base employs thousands? That's the essence of the Detroit's argument. We're being asked to believe the preposterous notion that these guys are victims like everyone else of the economic downturn. That they could with straight faces sit there and baldly testify that it's only hard times and not their own short-sighted, greed-driven decisions that have got them into the current mess they're in is an indication of just how stupid our rulers think we are. But a lot of people are going to believe it. If we didn't live in Bush's Amerika, which has been lied to so monstrously and for so long that the people can no longer distinguish between the truth; normal, run-of-the-mill prevarication; and bald-faced, unshirted bullshit, these people would be laughed out of the conference room.

I loathe, detest these suits who render daily obeisance before the Free Market Deity's altars in their board rooms, offices, houses, yachts, and vacation homes. These guys who have damned, no, God-damned, every proposal to assist the lower order of beings who have lost their jobs, who cannot survive on two or three minimum wage jobs, who cannot afford day care for their kids, who are being ruined by medical expenses or other fiscal disasters in the vast array of economic dangers the rest of us have to confront . . . these are the guys now whining before Congress that unless the taxpayers pony up another $25 billion, they're all going under.

I was dead set against the original bailout to begin with. For, among other reasons, the high likelihood of the catastrophe we're seeing unfold right now. I don't claim any particular prescience. It took no genius to figure out that handing hundreds of billions to the very same idiots who brought about this crisis in the first place was not going to solve anything.

I was right. The bailout's been a fiasco. Hank Paulson, a preeminent suit in the class I'm talking about, has no frigging clue about what he's doing. But what he does know is that nobody but his cronies in the financial sector are going to get any of his pie. What I find truly amazing is that American democracy--politely so-called--has now evolved to the stage where Congress has ceded to the executive branch its fundamental fiscal powers. Nothing has been more disconcerting than to see the likes of Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank remonstrating with the secretary of treasury about what the intent of congress was when they signed over $700 billion to him.

So here's where I am with this. Let Congress do something directly for all those millions of little people who need assistance. Let Congress do something for state and municipal governments that provide services for these little people. The sky is falling anyway. Whatever we do for Detroit is not going to save Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Topeka. Where does it end? So let these smart dudes in their corporate jets, $600 shoes, and $100 haircuts, who presumably are worth all those hundreds of millions they get paid earn their money, grapple with the problem. Let them figure out how to get out of the mess they made for themselves without a single cent more from the American taxpayer. And if the sky falls, I hope a ten-ton chunk lands on their heads. Chasing good money with bad is folly. Haven't we had enough of that for a lifetime during this administration?
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