Friday, September 26, 2008

Washington's Financial Bailout Brouhaha: American Government at Work

The brouhaha in Washington over a three-quarters-of-a-trillion bailout of arguably irresponsible financial companies makes me glad to be an American.

It's also churning my stomach, but that's another matter.

Behind all the it's-the-other-guy's-faulting and occasional preference for theory over fact, what we're seeing is the checks-and-balances design philosophy built into American government at work.

It's in the American culture, too. Thanks to the messy sort of freedom we have in America, people who don't agree with whoever is in authority can say so, and explain why.

Case in point: Stop the Housing Bailout!. The fellow who put up this website has a definite point of view, and it isn't the one favored by Washington:
  • "This site is dedicated to stopping the government's planned bailout of the housing market. A bailout requires responsible Americans to pay for the acts of greedy bankers, mortgage brokers, flippers, and over-extended home-borrowers. In other words, the government wants you to pay for the blunders of others who knew, or should have known, better.
  • "Equally as important, a bailout would permanently price out of the housing market all those responsible Americans...."
I haven't read the entire site, and haven't made up my mind about his ideas, but this isn't just a rant. Aside from stating his position, the website urges visitors to protest, shows where protests are happening, gives contact information for members of Congress, and reminds us that all representatives, and quite a few senators, are up for re-election.

It's Loud, It's Messy, But It Works

One of the strengths I see in American government, and culture, is that it's rather hard to make decisions that affect everyone without a lot of discussion. Also arguing, haranguing, posturing, and the odd temper tantrum.

One person, or a restricted set of like-minded people, can make mistakes. Big ones. Not because they're ignorant or malicious, but because they can't see all sides of an issue. They're human, and our minds only stretch so far.

A large number of people with a diverse set of backgrounds and viewpoints can make mistakes, too. Sometimes they're big ones.

All in all, I'd rather live here, than in a country where people had to go through proper channels to lodge complaints, and where the news media was well-managed. In China, for example, a company has been selling poison baby food: an embarrassment in that generally well-regulated country.

The official news, though, isn't troubling the people about that so much. The focus is on China's manned orbital mission and upcoming spacewalk.

It's not just China, of course, where people are encouraged to politely refrain from stating unwelcome opinions. For example, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Myanmar are quite careful to protect their subjects from ideas and discussions that might upset them.

America's approach is much less tidy, but I think we profit from letting all sorts of ideas get in.

In the news: About the Chinese orbital mission:

2 comments:

Dougist said...

The farther away from the intersection of Wall and Nassau street the more unnecessary Treasury's plan looks. But that distance only fogs the vision of a banking system ready to fail, with massive implications for our nation.

I wrote about it here: http://dougist.com/index.php?p=36

Lets hope that tomorrow Congress will finally do the right thing and we will never have to find out if I, and ever other finance executive in New York are right about the depths of this crisis.

Doug
www.dougist.com

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Dougist,

You could be right.

On the other hand, there's more than Manhattan golden parachutes at stake here. It's lending institutions that are tanking, which means that credit may be - make that is - getting harder to get.

That's where the boonies come in. Even small towns like the one I live in, in central Minnesota have businesses. Car dealerships, for example.

These businesses often rely on credit to pay their employees. In the case of car dealers, their customers usually rely on credit to buy their products.

When that supply of promised money dries up, we're all on a creek bed - and it doesn't matter whether or not we have a paddle.

I was unimpressed by the bailout, but now think there may be some reason for it.

As for what Congress is doing, that's another matter.

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.