Thursday, October 02, 2008

The obligatory financial crisis post. Yay.

Here’s what I think.

When a government is in economic trouble and they plan on giving $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money to people with whom we now have absolutely no confidence in, it would probably be wiser if they made absolutely sure no one called it a “bailout.” It should be termed a “stipend.” Or a “stimulus package.” A “money explosion.” “experimental money packages.” “The First Annual Presidential Lottery.” “Christmas.”

The root problem is that it’s difficult for the average person to see exactly how this money gets to them, which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be PR rule number one for politicians whenever a government is handing out huge chunks of money. Every time I’m watching a television someplace and news of the crisis comes on (so, every time I’m watching a television someplace), inevitably another person nearby will say something like “man, I wish the government would give me $700 billion every time I screwed up.” Then we’d all laugh. Except for me, of course. ‘Cause I’m not an idiot.

I’m fine with the fact that the government has to give money to companies led by executives who completely failed to forecast this disaster. That’s the way things work sometimes.

What bothers me is that the reason the lottery (or whatever) didn’t pass was that massive amounts of people who evidently have a different opinion poured in emails and angry phone calls to make their opinion known, and that was the difference maker.

I’m not questioning their opinions. I’m questioning the dozens of Republicans who saw which way the wind was blowing and ignored their own judgment and voted against the bill.

I remember in middle school, the teacher questioned us whether an elected official should be expected to vote his conscience or the will of his constituency. I felt passionately – and still do – that while the official was elected to represent their district, in moments of conflict, they should always do what they believe to be right.

Now, honestly, I have no idea if this bill is any good. I’ve heard some damning critiques, mostly from people who have something to gain from its failure – Dave Ramsey, the Christian financial consultant whose primary advice is “pay cash for everything,” has sent out an email advising all Christians to pray for the wisdom of our Congressman to reject this bill and instead enact the plan he, Dave Ramsey, has developed to fix the crisis. I’m sure it’s a winner.

Regardless, I’m just disappointed that even in economic crisis, when all eyes are on the government, when both their President and presidential nominee urge their support, when the time for posturing has clearly past, the only thing the Republicans can manage to do is run for re-election. How excellent their chances shall be.

After all, there’s no chance of the Democrats swinging this crisis to their own advantage, is there? I caught Obama’s speech today, in which he looked young and energetic and full of new ideas. And then I heard his content. He promised to reach across the aisle, doing whatever possible to fix this crisis, promising to find ways to make sure this money made its way back to the taxpayer, and listing ways our government could cut back the pork barrel fat. It reminded me of someone…

Obama may have played this better than anyone. McCain returned to Washington to help fix the crisis. A bill was proposed, both Obama and McCain voted for it, but it didn’t pass. But now, since Obama is already back in Washington, he jump into the fray, make several key appearances, knowing that if we immediately pass a new bill, he is going to look very, very good.

Thanks to Jonathan for the request.



At October 02, 2008 7:20 PM, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

"And then I heard his content."

You are apparently a rara avis in this regard. A majority of Americans seem to have gotten stuck at the "seems young and energetic" part. So, yes, the Democrats can apparently make political hay out of this. They have surged in the polls this week.


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