I am afraid I’ve been derelict in my duties as Chief Bemused Chronicler of the Coming Catastrophe. I’ve got an excuse, though. My Give a Damn’s Busted.
Well, that’s only half right. Of course I care about the precipice we are currently teetering upon. Nevertheless, part of me wants to scream “Jump!” just because the idea of huge corporations with enormous political influence and the fabulously wealthy men who run them getting off the hook and not paying dearly for the cruddy decisions they made with their customer’s money sickens my soul.
In six months, even the ones who are fired will no doubt land on their feet running some other company or fund into the ground. They are losers. And the helluva it is, many of these fellows with their hands out, begging us to backstop their stupidity will not be fired, or disciplined, or even given a slap on the wrist. They may even receive kudos from shareholders and the “experts” for having the good sense to finagle cash from the government in exchange for paper that is worth less than a supermarket full of Charmin.
Yes, I know that eventually the Treasury Department will try and sell these securities. And no doubt, the American taxpayer will be told that it was a great deal because we bought in for a song and sold for a huge profit. In the meantime, these same guys will be planning their next get rich quick scheme, gambling that they won’t be one of the suckers holding the bag when the crap hits the fan next time.
As I understand it (and I use the word “understand” in the minimalist way as in “I “understand” quantum mechanics isn’t about repairing tiny cars) the whole point of these trillions of dollars in mortgage backed securities bought by banks and investment firms all over the world is that it “spread the risk” so that no one company would be too exposed.
Who came up with that idea? And why, after spreading the risk all over the world, does it come all the way back and slap the American taxpayer square in the face?
In the immortal words of C-3PO, “Don’t get technical with me.” We are used to government programs being designed to do one thing while ending up accomplishing exactly the opposite. But a financial instrument?
We are told there hasn’t been enough regulation. We are also told there’s been too much regulation. We’ve been told that capitalism is at fault. We’ve been told that it’s government’s fault. We’ve been told it’s a lack of oversight. We’ve been told that banks were forced to lend to deadbeats. We’ve been told it’s the fault of greedy businessmen. We’ve been told it’s no one’s fault, that everyone is to blame.
Now I am not that bright about this kind of thing but to my way of thinking, I’m not sure everything we’ve been told can all be right. And given the track record of the people making these grandiose claims of fault – right and left – it hardly engenders confidence that anyone, anywhere knows what the hell they are talking about.
We might as well face it. Even the financial gypsies at the Fed don’t know what they are doing in this situation. They are in full reactive mode and their crystal balls have gone dark. And if the Fed is in the dark, the hacks at the Treasury Department are only guessing too.
Now I may not understand what’s going on too well but common sense would tell the average Joe that before we go off half cocked and start handing out taxpayer money that maybe, perhaps, we should have the slightest idea if this is going to work.
Just sayin’, that’s all.
Do we have a fallback plan in case this doesn’t do the trick? Or are we just going to throw more money at these Wall Street geniuses and hope for the best?
One thing about this crisis that is truly entertaining is reading bloggers trying to outdo one another in the level of hysteria that their posts reach. It is truly amazing. I’ll bet some of those online thesauruses are getting massive traffic as bloggers search for new adjectives to describe how dire is the situation we find ourselves.
One would think such hyperbole would be the exclusive province of the left. But we righties are making a brave stab at matching them – not in describing the financial crisis but in warning of the catastrophic consequences of the bailout plan. Now, one can oppose the Treasury plan without going off half cocked about “nationalizing Wall Street” or “socializing” the financial system in America. Similarly, one can write of the gravity of the situation without resorting to florid language about selling apples on street corners and half of America standing in soup lines.
But then, what fun is being calm and reasonable? After all, this is an election season and the more out of control and idiotic the rhetoric, the more some people will take you seriously. Besides, predicting the end of the world makes you sound smart to some. It speaks to one of humanity’s most fundamental impulses; the need for drama in our dull and dreary existence. We see this with global warming advocates whose calamitous warnings actually make them feel good inside. There is something almost sexually arousing about imagining the end of the world.
And some bloggers appear to really have a hard on for this disaster.