Monday, September 29, 2008

Wall Street Bailout, Flying Fewmets, and Politics as Comic Relief

Another day, another top-rank American financial institution changes hands. At least Wachovia didn't go bankrupt, and isn't being investigated for fraud. As far as I've read.

Although I've written about the Wall Street bailout before, this post is a little off-topic, since it's not directly concerned with the war on terror. On the other hand, the excitement on Wall Street seems to be a genuinely major event, so I'll say that it's important as background, and keep writing.

Big Lending Companies Fail: So What?

One of my early reactions to the crisis du jure on the east coast was, 'so what?' I felt sorry for the office workers who'd have to start looking for jobs: and not so much for the top executives who'd be paid millions of dollars for running their companies into the ground.

I almost buy into the idea that major lending institutions need to be kept afloat, so that they can lend money to other companies, and so on down to people here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, who are trying to buy houses.

I also accept the idea that, in the long run, the Federal Government will get the $700,000,000,000 in bad loans and investments back. Although I've got a feeling that precious few taxpayers will see their money again: unless they're the ones using government grants to study something vital, like how many paper clips a necklace for the Statue of Liberty would take.

The impression I've gotten from the news is that America's national leaders are convinced that they gotta do something, or the entire global economy will collapse.

They could be right. On the other hand, they could be wrong.

Blaming the Other Guy For Not Spending 0.7 Trillion Dollars - In the Name of Sanity, WHY?!

What I think is really interesting is how passionately America's leaders have been flinging verbal fewmets at each other, now that the other guy is completely responsible for not spending up to $700,000,000,000 on a plan that 50% of the American public doesn't want.

A Rasmussen poll that came out Saturday showed that about 24% of American voters favored the administration's plan, 25% weren't sure, and 50% knew they didn't want it ("Support for Bailout Plan Now Down to 24%" Rasmussen Reports (September 27, 2008)).
What is Wrong With This Picture?
Watching the news today was something like taking a stroll in the monkey house. I kept wanting to duck.

Republicans and Democrats were passionately throwing accusations that the other party is to blame for not spending almost three quarters of a trillion tax dollars on a massively unpopular project: in an election year.

It's barely possible that Congress thinks that those people out there that vote them into office are impressed by leaders who "do" something. Like spend lots of money. And, it's quite possible that they don't realize that, to people outside Washington, D.C., $700,000,000,000.00 is a lot of money.

Recipe for Tranquility: Pretend This is a Marx Brothers Movie

I've decided to regard what's going on in Washington, D.C., as comic relief: a sort of political analog to a Marx Brothers movie. Strange logic, wacky characters, preposterous situations.

Seriously, I don't have enough information to have an informed opinion about the bailout, whether it should be done, and if so how to do it. I'm just glad I'm not one of the people wrangling over this issue on capitol hill.
On the other hand, it wouldn't hurt to let the people in congress know how the rest of the country feels about the Wall Street bailout - one way or the other. I dug up some possibly-useful online resources:

Congressional voting records: Contact information for In the news:

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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.