Friday, September 26, 2008

The Bails Get a Second Look, The Fails Take Another Bank

Yesterday and this morning I’ve been finding myself siding with the House Republicans. Now I’m finding myself agreeing with Rep. Barney Frank. And in the end, I really don’t know that I want the proposals on Wall Street’s bailout from either of them!

I want to gouge my eyes out.

“Doctor, my eyes have seen the years
And the slow parade of fears without crying
Now I want to understand.” — Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne

The more I thought about Bush and Paulson’s big bailout blowout in Congress, I grew far too uneasy. This was waxing the taxpayers to save a bunch of rich, over-pampered, arrogant and apathetic executives and their heartlessly, greedy companies.

Recently I’d blasted a response to Glenn Beck for his thoughts on what ailed the economy: a GOP-style, get government off business' backs and give business more tax breaks. Then yesterday I was amazed at the stunning reversal, where Beck was sounding all of the socialist he’d always railed against, and joining the president and at least Senate Republicans in calling for a quick passage to this debacle! What a two-faced weasel!

To me, Republicans are finally seeing the fruits of this tax-breaks-for-business, trickle-down, deregulation, let-the-free-market-police-itself culture. Far from the GDP and American workers' innovation and productivity pulling us out of this mess, now we find our nation about to take a nosedive in spite of their precious principles!

Not that I’m a fan of give-the-rich-all-the-breaks-and-corporate-welfare approach to Free Market principles. But I’m for something well between Maoist, nationalize-all-companies, and Reaganomics II and the Bush/Cheney good-ol-boy crony giveaways in this Marie Antoinette / ‘let them eat crap’ society. But to see these former Louis XVI elitism throwbacks suddenly saluting the government takeover of business, and to do so with taxpayers’ money, is hypocrisy to cartoonish extreme.

Apparently I wasn’t the only depressed and furious citizen on this latest Bush scheme. Just when John McCain “suspended his campaign” and flew up to Washington to “save the day and Bush’s bill,” enough citizens – conservative ones – called up their neo-con folk officing on Independence Avenue and lambasted them! They were emboldened by McCain’s presence and decided to pull the rug out from their President and the rest of Congress and say “Hell No!”

For once, I agreed with House Republicans. Let the damn banks and Wall Street fail. Everything sucks, this whole economy has become a rotting corpse of greed, and it’s time for what they call “compassionate conservatism” – more commonly known as “tough love” – applied back to these very same conservatives who’ve profited from this greed-feed. You can’t begin to push off and swim to the top until you’ve reached the bottom.

It’s time for the wealthy, corporate-class folks who’ve outsourced, offshored, automated and streamlined the American workforce to feel what it’s really like being in the lower-90’s and truly feeling this “economic recovery” (as in recovering from a disaster.) So what if everything tanks? The majority of us are already feeling and facing certain disaster. It’s Bush and the Reagan Neo-Conservatives’ legacy. Let it crash and burn.

When the GOPer House folks stood their ground and demanded a rework, I was relieved.

“I have done all that I could
To see the evil and the good without hiding
You must help me if you can.” — Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne

Then on the Lehrer Report, we had Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) who’s defacto leader of this “conservative revolt” discussing the impasse. Pence said he wanted a plan that did not put taxpayers on the hook for this – fantastic!

Then Pence explained how he wanted to do it, by freeing up “money already trapped in the economy” that could buy up the assets without need for taxpayer infusions. Hmm … this is sounding shady. Voodoo economics anyone?

Finally Pence elaborated: if you reduce corporate capital gains tax, then all the corporations who make and have the money overseas will bring their overseas profit back into the country and then buy up the bad credit. So basically, while corporate America could help us now if they had reported the profits stateside, they’d prefer offshoring their profits where they don’t have to pay taxes and let America tank. And to induce them to “help America out,” Pence suggests we give them extra incentive (beyond the current profiteering by moving profits offshore) to come back to the American table and help out.

To which Barney Frank piped up with his observation: Republicans want to fix corporate America’s Wall Street disaster by giving corporate America a bigger break than they already get. “You’re way too hard on them, Mike!” Gotta say, Barney is excellent with the zingers and I agree with him for once (though can’t stand his politics of a social variety or much else.)

My confidence that the Democrats are attempting to push for the little folks has been restored. But frankly, I don’t think any of these bailouts have done anything to elicit the desired behavior change. The only lesson that corporations and industries taking these handouts have learned is that it works to their benefit. Once they return to the black, it’s still all about profit, baby – screw everyone else!

This may sound horribly hard-hearted. But keep in mind who we’re talking about helping. Companies, corporations and industries have no heart. Unlike humans, they exist solely to make money. The more money they make, the more their top level executives make and the better they like it. If that means the American worker or consumer gets burned, the only thing they concern themselves with is the bottom line.

Even today, we get yet another bank wanting to get in on the action: Washington Mutual – the largest bank failure in American history – just went under in very convenient timing.

In this era of offshoring labor, offshoring headquarters a la Cheney’s Halliburton, or outright finding ways to move funds offshore, or underwrite their bottom line or just outright not paying their corporate taxes at all and daring the IRS to come get it, they already affect the taxpayers bottom line.

It’s time the taxpayers attend to our bottom line for once. Let them suffer and hopefully it’s a hard enough fall and hurts enough so that they learn.

“Doctor, my eyes …
Tell me what you see.
I hear their cries
Just sayin’ it’s too late for me.” — Doctor My Eyes, Jackson Browne

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