The Great American setup

The Congressional Democrats are once again acting the part of Fool to George Bush’s King by allowing themselves to be set up with the current “bail out” of Wall Street.

Two weeks ago there was no problem in the economy that couldn’t be resolved on its own. Now, one week before Congress is anxious to adjourn so that members of Congress can do what’s really important to them—run for office—the members are told that they have to accept a given deal from the White House. And quickly! Before it’s too late! Basically handing to Bush and Paulson the golden goose with no strings attached.

The Democrats are buying it. They’re buying the rush, they’re buying the stories, they’re buying the panic, the fear—they’re buying the “rightness” of basically handing a get out free card to the most avarice of those in corporate America.

After Iraq, after the disaster that came when Congress last acted impulsively to the Bush administration exhorting, “Quickly! Before it’s too late!”, we’re now considering doing the same again. Not only will the Congressional “bail out” give Bush a way to reward his corporate friends handsomely before leaving office, it’s also painting a lurid red bullseye on the Democratic party just before this election. This election that was supposed to be the Democrats to win. “See?”, the conservative pundits will exclaim, come the first of November. “Tax and spend liberals and their government giveaways.”

Let’s forget politics for the moment, if possible. Never before has there been a greater disconnect between Congress and the people of this country. The American people just aren’t buying the urgency, the desperate need to move quickly, the breathlessly huge scope of what the Treasury department is asking, or the price tag. Why should we? Why should we believe this will ultimately help us? When was the last time these institutions worried about us? Why should we give institutions that, which they are unwilling to give in return?

In 2005, Congress enacted modifications to the Bankruptcy laws that amount to punitive measures for average citizens filing for bankruptcy—measures demanded by the same institutions now holding their hands out. We were told, at the time, that such Bankruptcy law changes were necessary because bankruptcy was being abused; too many people were gambling their money away in Vegas and then filing bankruptcy. In addition, the banks testified before Congress, bankruptcy no longer had the appropriate amount of shame attached, and people were filing for bankruptcy like they were going to a Sunday picnic.

In actuality, bankruptcy filings almost invariably occur because one of three things happening: unexpected and devastating medical costs; loss of a job; divorce or death of spouse. Rather than be a cake walk, bankruptcy is traumatic and costly to those who file, many of whom come away with barely the clothes on their backs (valued at new prices, according to the newly modified laws).

Now the same institutions that required the average citizen take “financial management courses” before filing for bankruptcy, because we’re seemingly too stupid to understand how to manage our money, want a bail out with no strings attached. I have to ask: will we require that the CEOs and other management of these companies attend financial management classes? It would seem they have learned nothing with their Harvard educations, perhaps the local community colleges would do a better job.

And let’s return to the main reason for bankruptcy: medical costs. Though Obama has said this “bail out” won’t impact on his health care plans, of course it will. Even before the bail out, Democrats in Congress were beginning to murmur about how we won’t have the money to make these sweeping health care changes; how we’ll have to think about cutting back; perhaps only ensure that children have health care coverage. That was before the government gulped down a trillion dollars of financial aid to the rich. I don’t have a Harvard education but even I know that we can’t make change when we’re paying the bill for both Iraq and the “bail out”.

What’s tragically ironic, though, is that being unable to make significant changes in health care coverage just leads to the same cycle of overwhelming medical expenses, little or no health care coverage, followed by foreclosure and bankruptcy. At least in this Obama and McCain would share the same failure regardless of who becomes President: McCain’s health care plan will also cost billions, and even conservatives have said his plan will most likely lead to more people being uninsured, rather than less.

Since we can no longer afford to make the “change” both candidates tout, what will we get for our 700 billion? What will the $2,330 this bail out costs each of us, buy us?

It won’t necessarily fix the problem, and may only be the start of the pay outs we’ll have to make.

It won’t buy us real security, because the same idiots who made the bad decisions leading to this mess will still be in charge, still getting their bloated paychecks as a reward for incompetence.

It won’t necessarily lead to safeguards to ensure this type of event won’t happen again, because according to the Bush administration, we’re in too much of a hurry to worry about such things. See, that’s something we’ll do later. You know, sometime later. When later? Later.

You know what this bail out would be equivalent to if applied to thee and me? Going into bankruptcy court and telling the judge, “Your honor, I screwed up, I got greedy. However, I want to keep all of my stuff, and I don’t want my credit to be hurt. I just want you to make all my debt go away, and, in return, I promise to buy lots of new stuff afterward. You know, to help the economy. Oh, if I screw up again, you’ll still be here to help me. Won’t you?”

Of course, this wouldn’t happen to thee and me. Well, not unless you’re the CEO of a major bank, where the rules of sound financing don’t seem to apply.

How, then, will we be repaid for our aid to the wealthy? Probably more laws making the bankruptcy filings even tougher. Less money for education. No real health care reform. Increasing unemployment. No credit card reform. No lessening of tax credits for the companies. No rollback of tax cuts for the rich. Increased use of purchased justice through phony arbitration companies, rather than the courts. More money for more companies who no longer even bother worrying about risk management.

And once our money runs out, the companies will take our land, and our resources, our clean water and clear skies, our dignity and our independence, and eventually, when these run dry, our souls.

Oh come on now, not our souls, you say. Yes, our souls. It was only last week that I got into a debate in another web site about universal health care, where the Christian McCain supporter I was arguing with stated that universal health care is charity, charity should only be given out at church, and should come with a price tag: adherence to the Christian faith. Want to live? Then you must live as a Christian.

Do not say that such won’t happen in the future, couldn’t possibly happen in the US, because two weeks ago, none of us would have believed that in a week we’d be giving 700 billion dollars to the George Bush administration to do with what they will.

Anything is possible. Anything.

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