Tuesday, September 23, 2008

They'll always get richer

We all have 700 billion reasons to be mad this week.

The federal government is bailing out Wall Street firms who gambled in the financial markets, reaped huge profits over the last 10 years and are now feeling the pain. They created a mess which will take an estimated $700 billion to fix and it will cost each of us about $10,000 to make it a reality. That's right, every taxpayer, according to one member of the U.S. Senate, will have to fork over in taxes a hefty sum to ensure that Wall Street doesn't collapse.

This would not be a problem if we raked in the type of dough that some financial services gurus have been bringing home for the past decade. But for us regular working types, that probably hasn't been the case.

Our country is run by the wealthy and it's understandable that policy protects those with fat bank accounts. Unfortunate, but understandable.

Wednesday. President George Bush went on national television to rally support for the bailout, which, if history is the precursor to wisdom, tells us that this is a horrible idea. Remember his pleas for support of the war in Iraq? If Bush wants us to support it, we probably shouldn't. That's not a partisan statement -- I'm independent -- but a comment about his track record.

I recall him saying earlier this year that our problems can be traced back to the fact that we built too many houses. Somewhere along the line he must have had an epiphany.

Fortunately, on Thursday support for the bailout seemed to run up against a roadblock. Maybe now we can start looking at a way to make those whose greed steered them, and ultimately millions of Americans, down the wrong path, learn from their mistakes.

I say we come up with a formula to allow the private sector to sort this all out. Make those mighty Wall Street firms who are struggling get loans from stronger, smaller investors. We could incentivize the smaller firms to lend money with ownership stakes and reasonable interest rates that would benefit them in the end and bring more wealth to more people. This would be significant progress over helping those who have long enjoyed considerable wealth from continuing to enjoy golden parachutes when things go awry and lives of luxury when they don't.

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