Extreme makeover — national edition

Current proposals for the government to take on the bad debts of financial institutions and guarantee the investments in mutual funds will bring about the most extreme makeover of our economy in the nation’s history. And we are told not to think about it for very long because any delay could lead to the worst depression ever. We are asked to hand over all economic control to a small cadre of unelected officials who cannot be challenged in Congress, the courts or even by the President. This is simply wrong.

Taxpayers are asked to fork over their wallets to the tune of a minimum of $700 billion and probably 3 trillion dollars so that a system that ran amok seeking obscene profits and payouts can save itself. And, as is usual in any revolutionary move such as this, we are told it is all being done for our own good.

Politicians of every stripe are clamoring to get on board this extreme makeover for fear of being tarred with the label of “the one who caused the Great Depression II”. Both presidential candidates are trying to make it sound like they are for this plan while standing firm for the “average American.” Hogwash. Both are handmaidens of corporate owners and neither has the guts to talk about the many problems of our economic system.

Should we take on this bailout? Maybe. But if we do, we need to exact some real reforms that are long overdue, among which are:

1. Every aspect of the financial industry needs to be tightly regulated by the federal government to prevent this from ever happening again. Those who have the power to regulate must include enough people outside the current system to have an effective say in the course of our recovery from the current debacle.
2. Executive pay must be regulated to prevent the kind of obscene payouts awarded for ruining our economy.
3. Taxes must be raised on the upper 5% of earners of all sorts to begin to reduce the national debt.
4. We must rapidly end all our military engagements and reduce our defense budget by 50% as a way to cut the debt.
5. Actions by those empowered to administer the bailout and the financial system must be subject to ongoing Congressional oversight and veto. We cannot allow the Fed or any other agency to put us at peril like this again.

Most importantly we as Americans have got to lead the way by getting out of personal debt, reducing our dependency on buying everything thrown our way, and rejecting the control over us by world corporate interests. Yes, there are many who deserve blame for the current mess, but we individually have more power and responsibility than we acknowledge.

Those who read my ramblings know that I always end up placing the ball in the hands of each one of us, if for no other reason than it is only our own actions we have some control over. Blaming others may be accurate, justified and cathartic, but if you and I don’t reform our own behavior there is little hope for the future.

26 Responses to "Extreme makeover — national edition"

  1. Flapsaddle  September 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I remember silver certificates (printed with blue serial numbers, IIRC), United States Notes (red numbers) AWA the green-numbered Federal Reserve Notes. The silver certificates declared them to be redeemable in silver at the US Treasury.

    I believe that we went off of the gold standard in 1933 – no later than 1934.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  2. Malibu  September 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    You recall correctly. We were off the gold standard late in 1933.

    Malcolm

  3. Stratocaster  September 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    If they can print money for some slime ball on Wall Street, why and the hell can’t they print money for Health Care and Social Security. This government is nothing but a charade and a farce.

  4. griff  September 22, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    No mention of jobs? We also need to return to a productive economy as opposed to the service- and debt-based economy we now have. All these problems can be traced directly or indirectly back to 1913, the year we handed our country to the private – and unaccountable – banks.

    It doesn’t matter what your interest rate is if you don’t have a job.

    The Congress needs to stop being an ATM for the bankers and corporations. We also need to stop pretending that this is something that merely happened by accident, and that a single party is responsible.

  5. Stratocaster  September 23, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Well, I just found out where you get a trillion dollars; you don’t borrow it; you print it. Now, go figure what a devaluation of the dollar will do to this country. We’re sinking, and those bastards are pissing in the boat.

  6. Stratocaster  September 23, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Vote No Bailout

    http://www.votenobailout.org/

  7. Timr  September 23, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Stratocaster, of course you just print it. Since the value of currencies worldwide is based only on confidence, rather than the way it used to be-on gold-(say, does anyone remember bills that were either gold or silver certificates?, They used to actually say that the bill could be redeemed for gold or silver.-Boy that really dates me, don it?)One has to have confidence in that govt. I have no idea why we got off the gold standard, but somehow I believe the “Law of Unintended Consequences” is one day going to bite us on the ass. Think about it. No country in the world-that I am aware of-actually backs their currency with something tangible. Every currency out there is just trading against each other on a “promise”-what that promise is, I don’t know.

    Maybe it would be a good idea to bury some gold or silver in the back yard, just in case.

    Now, we have been running a “deficit” for many years now(cough cough 8 cough, cough)and my understanding of a “deficit” is that our outflow exceeds our income. So, in effect, the govt has been printing money for 8 years to cover spending money we don’t have. Of course our “friends” like China and SaudiArabia have been buying our debt thru T bills, but then they are buying them with US dollars that they took from us for oil-SA and stuff-China. I read “The Economist” every week-it is a very expensive magazine, almost $100 a year-and is conservative, but I do in fact believe it when it comes to business, even they are quite worried about the US “current account deficit” that we are running. We are in fact a society that is solely geared towards credit and debt. Borrow and spend. I am very happy to say that except for my house-bought on a 30 year fixed rate of 4.5%-I am totally debt free. No credit card bills(always PIF every month) No car payment-car purchesed in 2003 is bought and payed for,with less than 40,000 miles on the clock-so I am prepared, somewhat as I am 100% dependent on 2 govt pensions, for just about anything. No panic, but ready for whatever happens.(In case of total meltdown, I have several relatives who have large houses and who own farms free of debt)

  8. NotoriousJP  September 23, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    We are screwed. I may not vote at all. Obama has pen in hand, ready to write that blank check. This has the smell of a created crisis. And the foxes want us to sign away all rights to the henhouse and to liable for its debts and expenses.

  9. bryan mcclellan  September 23, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Please go to the site that Stratocaster provided and utilize the voice it provides.

    Thanks Strato..

    I have several silver certificates. Do you suppose they are worth the paper they are printed on? I doubt it.

  10. gazelle1929  September 23, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    They stopped redeeming them for silver back in 1964 or so. But they still spend, though there is probably a small numismatic value. If they have a star in the serial number then are (or were at one time) worth marginally more. Try eBay. Now if you have a five hundred or a thousand they have considerable collector value. Again, check eBay.

  11. griff  September 23, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    True, but our currency was still tied loosely to gold until 1971.

    When the United States declared bankruptcy in 1933 with the Federal Reserve Act and later the Emergency Banking Act, the receivers of this bankruptcy were the IMF and World Bank. The IMF demanded payment not in dollars, but in gold. Hence in 1971, due to dwindling gold reserves, all ties between gold and the dollar were severed.

    That’s the Cliff’s Notes version as I understand it.

  12. Revolutionary Democracy  September 23, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    There’s no excuse for allowing the collapse of the U.S. economy to happen.

    No amnesty, no pardons.

    Pursue the Bush administration beyond January 20 until they are brought to justice.

    FREE AMERICA

    REVOLUTIONARY (DIRECT) DEMOCRACY

  13. pondering_it_all  September 24, 2008 at 2:48 am

    If you really want some oversight on the bailout, and you really want some investigation and prosecution of the culprits after Jan 20th, then I suggest you vote for Obama. If McCain wins, then nothing like that will ever happen. I’m not 100% sure either will happen under Obama, but I AM 100% sure neither will under McCain!

    BTW: If you want to bury something in the back yard, get it all changed into rolls of nickels. All the nickels in circulation are already worth quite a bit more than 5 cents for their metal content. If the dollar falls through the floor, then you will have a precious commodity worth much more than its face value. It IS illegal to move many nickels out of the US and it IS illegal to melt them down for their metal content, but if the US collapses I don’t think you will need to worry about either of those laws!

  14. ekaton  September 30, 2008 at 6:37 am

    $700 Billion? Just a drop in the bucket. The US Taxpayer already pays $400 Billion or more every year in interest on the national debt. I could use a couple drops in the bucket, though, now that I think of it. $400 billion a year. Interest alone. We are royally screwed, blued and tattooed.

    – Kent Shaw

  15. Harve3  September 30, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Except, of course, the IMF & World Bank didn’t exist in 1933, but are creations of the post-WWII era.

    Hill Country resident

  16. gazelle1929  October 1, 2008 at 11:51 am

    What? You are trying to put facts in the way? For shame.

  17. rjf7r  October 6, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    While I think Hoskins’ list of reforms might help, this current government would not do them, and probably a majority of Congress wouldn’t do them, either, and the next administration will start off in a fiscal straitjacket.

    Perhaps we just wanted to show bin Laden and the world that we could do far more damage to ourselves than anybody else could. After all, we have our pride. One final act of American exceptionalism.

  18. Malibu  September 22, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Well put, Mr. Hoskins. We all are responsible for the debts at home and in D.C. Americans were distracted by our own White House giving the illusion we are all in good hands. Within the first year of President Bush’s election he was far too concerned with social issues and overlooked the threat of terrorism. Even after 9/11, he continued to appoint cabinet members who kissed his boots rather than take the responsibility for their appointed positions.

    The debts he put us in and the promise of a sound economy gave millions of Americans the opportunity to buy homes and cars they could not pay for. Is it possible that these millions of Americans did not understand basic arithmetic?

    The schools in America do not teach economics and the fact that using credit cards add as much as 20% on the cards when they are paid. This is insanity.

    We must not allow President Bush to appoint any commissioner of overseeing the SEC. We have a Congressional group who’s feet must be held to the fire.

    Good commentary,

    Malcolm

  19. Jim C  September 22, 2008 at 9:24 am

    Dead on , exactly how we should proceed . May I add one more thing , track down those who profited , seize their profits , bonus’s , severance , everything . Then go after those who made it possible Phil Grahm , corporate lobbiests , everybody who worked to make this debacle possible and give them the same treatment . Maybe use the RICO statutes to charge them with fraud and conspiracy , after all , RICO was designed to catch organized crime and thats exactly what this is , period . In other words , take away the profits and put them in jail for a long time . We all know how conservatives are always bleating about being ” tough on crime ” , so lets get on with it and make them examples for the next group that might consider pulling something like this .

  20. Stratocaster  September 22, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Where do you borrow a trillion dollars? The country and the banks are broke. Are they going to go begging to the Chinese again? Taxes will go up not for infrastructure or security but to pay off a debt to a foreign government. Taxation without representation. Where have I heard that before?

  21. griff  September 22, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    “Where do you borrow a trillion dollars?”

    If you find out, please let me know. I think that’s enough coin to start my own country.

  22. Stratocaster  September 22, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Who was the numb-nuts that did away with the usury laws?

  23. Klaus Hergeschimmer  September 22, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I had a good laugh this morning when Fancy Pants ‘no more blank checks for Bush’ Pelosi stated, “there will be no blank checks for Bush in this Bailout”

    -HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH
    -HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH
    -HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH-HA-HAH!!!

    Ah…if the situation weren’t so serious I’d be laughing all day at the D-Crappers boasting!

  24. Timr  September 22, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Stratocaster, the republicians. The same ones who changed the bankruptcy laws and deregulated the banks. They still want very much to privatise Social Security(this financial mess may allow them to frighten the sheeple enough to allow them to do it)and pretty much dismantal everything that was put into place in the 30s to insure that we would not have another depression. Watch out. The future is going to be a wild ride.

  25. Timr  September 22, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    The lobbyists have already convinced the repigs in congress to bail out the foreign banks also(cough cough UBS cough cough)-where Phil Gramm-the author of bank deregulation as a senator(chairman of the senate banking cmte R Tx)who is a vice chairman of UBS and their number 1 lobbyist besides being the McCain choice to be Sec Trea-putting the fox among the chickens indeed

  26. woody188  September 22, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Anything Paulson suggests is suspect as he personally profited by creating this mess while CEO of Goldman Sachs. He should be resigning instead of making plans to further enrich himself and his buddies in finance.

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