President Bush asked for and received network time to address the nation last night. Fair enough. He looked old and haggard, and was full of gloom and doom. I don’t blame him a bit. A lot of us feel the same way after the last 7.5 years.
If the American people were able to collectively call up the networks and request 15 minutes of air time to address President Bush, it might go something like this.
Good Evening, Mr. President:
We hate to admit it, but what you said is fundamentally true. The economy is in a shambles. Thanks for being honest about that, finally.
We won’t even quibble much over how we got here, although an honest economist would tell us that the roots of it lie in deregulation insisted upon by the financial sector itself, and led by Republicans (admittedly, with help from some Democrats as well).
And although virtually all of us hate it, we doubt in the end that Congress will, or even should, turn you down in your request for a $700,000,000,000.00 bailout of Wall Street. As frustrating as it is, we’re not stupid.
We know that the very companies in trouble are the ones who guarantee and underwrite all the deals, who fund all the economic engines which keep the country humming along. From the richest guy on Wall Street to the homeless guy on the streets of Laredo, Texas, our lives are all in some way tied to the multi-billion dollar deals that come and go on a secondly basis.
Credit fuels the economy, and confidence is the essential mothers-milk of credit. Now that confidence is gone, killed by the greed of the very people your Republican Party trusted when you determined that everything everywhere should be deregulated, and that all financial firewalls should come tumbling down. When your bank is also your mortgage company which is also your insurance company, which also owns a minority share in your grocery store, your office building, your road building contractor, the corner bar, and your local sports franchise, and one of those subsidiaries is giving away home loans beyond the means of the loan recipients, the mortgage sector will eventually sink at the first sign of reduced home values. And without those financial firewalls which you Republicans fought to erase, it cannot help but drag all other financial sectors down with it.
We get it. We as a country, one way or another, whether we like it or not, are about to buy down about $700,000,000,000.00 worth of bad investments from those who made them in the first place. We guess that means that the United States of America is about to become one of the biggest shareholders in crappy ill-conceived housing, high-rise messes, overbuilt business districts, and risky old credit card debt.
But, we’d like a few considerations in return.
First, we would like to be spared all future smug lectures by you and other so-called “fiscal conservatives” about how free markets drive robust economies, and as such governments should stay out of the way. Even a true conservative would readily agree that the purpose of governments is to do that which cannot be done by the private sector. We now have $700,000,000,000.00 worth of proof that the private sector cannot be trusted, without government oversight and protections, to police itself.
Second, we demand your recognition that there are other investments which could have driven the economy besides the now-failed housing boom, which would have also gone toward solving real human need, and that those investments could have only been made with the leadership of your uncaring government.
If 8 years ago we had made a national commitment to universal health care, the pent-up demand for long-neglected care among unhealthy Americans would have created countless jobs, fueled research and development toward curing disease, reduced costs to local economies strapped by paying for people who have no other choice than to seek their primary care from the E.R., and resulted in a much healthier workforce.
If 8 years ago we had made a serious national commitment toward energy efficiency and to moving to alternative forms of sustainable energy, it would have spurred billions in new technology development, and created new industries in retrofitting homes and businesses into a new energy-efficiency, would have created a boom in the manufacturing sector, would have reduced our dependence on foreign oil, and would have gone miles toward saving the planet.
The successful implementation of those two ideas alone would have literally changed our world, for the better. Yes, either investment would have been expensive, but the price tag of both of them together would not have approached $700,000,000,000.00. And we haven’t even gotten into the billions you blew on your stupid war.
So, President Bush, in one way or another, you’ll probably get your $700,000,000,000.00 in bail-out money. However, we would all feel better about it if you would just stand up, grow a pair, and admit what that money represents: the utter failure of the neoconservative philosophy, and the biggest waste of money and opportunity in the history of the planet to date.
PS: Just an FYI, Mr. President: yesterday the August numbers were released on U.S. housing market. Turns out that U.S. housing prices fell in the month of August by almost 10 percent – the largest drop in history. Mission accomplished indeed.