Monday, September 29, 2008

Congress is a Damn Fool

As I write, the House of Representatives is still voting on the $700B bailout plan to stabilize the financial markets. And the House is voting No.

Perhaps they're all planning to back to their reelection campaigns and say, "Look--I'm looking after your interests! We're not going to let those financiers use your money to get away with crashing our financial system!"

Nothing could be more foolish.

When the stock market crashed in 1929, then-president Herbert Hoover put his head in the proverbial sand and waited for the magic of capitalism to make the desert bloom.

Didn't work, folks. It took government money to get the economy working again--literal job creation.

All over the Sierra Nevada mountains there are trails built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a make-work program started by the Roosevelt Administration, and the remains of disintegrated wooden dams that were built to serve the same purpose (there seems to have been no other). The New Deal even provided work for writers, for heaven's sake. Any good used book store will carry several 1930s volumes profiling states and major cities, all written during the Depression by otherwise unemployed writers.

But even New Deal money wasn't enough: World War II, and the torrent of government money it required, is what finally got the U.S. economy afloat once more.

The point is that sooner or later, we're going to need a whopping big amount of government money to get the economy going again.

Better sooner than later. We should know from Hoover's mistake that a quick bailout is a far better way to address a market crisis than wishful thinking.

No, the well-heeled heels of Greenwich don't deserve any handouts. But then neither does the Bush administration, which, if anything, smiled on financial risk-takers, nor do federal regulators who stood by while it happened--and nor does the do-nothing Congress that let the situation slide so far. Everyone involved has been greedy or at least complacent. Then again, was that unexpected?

We should remind Congress that it's irrelevant who got us into this mess.

It's also irrelevant if any individual representative fails to get re-elected for doing what the country needs done.

If we don't bail together, we're going to sink. We could take the rest of the world with us.


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