20 September 2008

A Rush to Judgement?


The White House, reinforced by the cacophony of 24/7 news is shouting that the sky is falling and we must do something fast. Most important, we must do what they say. There is no time to think. There is no time to question. The smart guys have it all figured out. So gives us the rubber stamp so we can get down to serious business.

So excuse me, but the Brain is going to hit pause for a minute. Haven't we seen this movie before? Ah, yes that's right. The Iraq War. There was absolutely no doubt. Iraq was amassing WMD's. Iraq was in collusion with the masterminds of 9/11 and was determined to attack us and our allies. There was no time to wait. So how did that work out for us?

Now realistically I can't say this is exactly the same situation. We realistically do have a crisis. A good number of folks have pointed out that our economy was a house of cards and to some extent our way of life (personally and as a government). Some of those folks such as James Howard Kunstler, a noted commentator on the urban condition, might come off as a bit alarmist, but I'm guessing that they are sitting pretty now.

So we have a problem, a lot of problems actually. Wall Street is collapsing, capital is drying up, CEO's might not get their bonuses. Oh, and Americans are loosing their jobs and homes, tens of millions have no health care, families can't afford tuition for college, oh and the dollar is going south and oil is skyrocketing despite the economic downturns in the US.

Whatever Congress does this week, or next, they should not rush to judgment about the plan put forward by the Administration. Why should we trust the people that two weeks ago didn't believe there was a problem to fix it? Even Newt Gingrich doesn't think this is a good idea.

Further, we should seriously question buying out companies using public funds. Why should we pay for over-priced assets that no one else would buy? Shouldn't the American public get equity and and reward for taking such huge risks? Should CEO's be able to draw huge salaries at public expense when they can't keep their companies afloat?

Let's insist that Congress not write a blank check on this. We do need to act, but we should do so with the integrity of purpose worthy of the sacrifices of the American Public. We should act in a way that requires sacrifices not only of taxpayers but also the culprits of our crisis. Finally, we should not stop in addressing the immediate, but reforming the underpinnings of this crisis including our dependence on oil.

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