According to Karl Marx, an economy based on speculation, and one from which only a few profit, cannot sustain itself. Marx predicted the eventual collapse of capitalism based on that postulation. He did not predict when or where this collapse would happen, only that it was an inevitability. We may now be witnessing that collapse before our eyes.
We now see that greed is not the engine that can run or maintain an economy. It is now obvious that Reagan’s vaunted “trickle down” theory of the economy has a lot more down to it than it does trickle.
I’m not an economist, nor am I a Marxist. I do know, however, that while a three-legged table may look nice, it is a precarious repositor upon which to place anything of value. And our economy since the Reagan era can well be likened to this three legged table.
You may think that you like limited regulation and unsustainable growth, but this position has suddenly become an untenable one due to the greed factor. Now that we have had that erroneous view of the economy yanked out from under us, we have a trillion or more dollar mess to sweep up. Actually, if some economists are correct, the mess may well be several trillion dollars before all is done and said.
It’s a mess, and most economists who aren’t card carrying Libertarians have been warning about such a calamity for three or more years. The banks didn’t fail because the free-markets were restrained. The lending industry didn’t collapse because taxes were too high. Nor did the market tank because the Democrats took control of Congress two years ago. We, the people, were promised prosperity in a time of war, financed by low taxes and borrowed dollars. And, or yeah, good times were just around the bend. We were told to shop instead of save and to borrow instead of invest. This is a failure of leadership and that leadership sits in the White House. And it controlled the Congress for twelve out of the last fourteen years.
I, myself, flirted with the Libertarian philosophy from the eighties until 2003. I began to see the flaws in Libertarian ideology when trade deal after trade deal took our jobs away, and when tariffs disappeared, harming the manufacturing industries and their workers. At the same time our borders were overrun by immigrants, understandably seeking a better life, all the while diminishing job opportunities and wage and benefit improvements for us and our children. Libertarians embraced much of this deregulation, freetrade, open borders and other positions which have not worked.
Then when those Indiana voters who were misled by Mitch Daniels, buying into his vision for the state, elected him as governor, the final nails were driven into the coffin of Libertarianism for me. He messed up our time zones for no reason other than that he could. He privatized our Toll Road for what amounts to thirty pieces of silver, and either privatized, or tried to privatize, our child care services, welfare, prisons, license branches, and other necessary and essential services.
Privatization sounds a lot better in theory than it appears to be in reality. Bush, Daniels, and their ilk have pushed me back to the progressive liberalism of my youth. They and their minions have proven that government is necessary, that oversight and regulation must be maintained for the good of the people and to keep robber barons and other purveyors of greed in check. Only through the workings of a government which protects those most innocent of our citizenry can we achieve and hold on to justice and fairness. We have tried their lassaize faire style of privatization, deregulation, and rampant greed and found it to be a failure. We need to get back on the path of good government and necessary oversight and fairness. Not the nanny state which keeps us safe from all risk and potential harm, but a government that functions for the best interest of the people as a whole, and not just for those few with power, wealth, and access.
The system has failed to deliver, but at the same time, we have failed ourselves. We haven’t asked the hard questions nor demanded to hear the hard answers. We have grown accustomed to our cell phones, plasma TVs, and mobile living rooms that we call SUVs. We expect to live our lives in comfort while month after month only making the minimum payment on our mortgages and credit cards, and we get angry when our gas bill cramps our spending habits. Government can’t, and shouldn’t fix this for us. We need to take charge of our own lives and we need to stop blaming anyone else for our own unrealistic expectations.
Maybe government can, and probably should, offer better tax incentives to encourage us to save and invest than it does for us to spend. But we need to do those things regardless, because they are ultimately good for us, our children, and our grandchildren, and for the economy as a whole. Rampant consumerism needs to be replaced by investment and responsibility, and good government can encourage us on that path.
Wall Streets robber barons who were allowed to run amok for the last eight or more years have now floundered on the rocky shore of greed, and I say not a dime for them in any bailout that ultimately comes out of Washington. Whatever money is injected into the economic failures of these greed meisters should be introduced at the ground level of these serial collapses. What I mean by this is, the money should be earmarked toward bailing out or guaranteeing the mortgages of single dwelling borrowers who find themselves caught up in this conundrum in which they are the victims, not the perpetrators.
It should not bail out the losses of those who mortgaged second, third, or more homes. It should not bail out the real estate speculators who were busy flipping houses for the sake of profit who finally ran out of wiggle room with the mortgage holders. And it should certainly not bail out those who wrote up and backed bad loans just so they could bundle more mortgages into financial instruments which they then sold to other speculators trying to get their share of the carcasses of hard working middle America. Nor should those purchasers of these bundled mortgages be rewarded for their despicable role in this financial fiasco.
The dollars that flow out of Washington, in whatever version of a bailout is finally arrived at, are our dollars. They will be injecting tax dollars, or more likely, borrowed dollars, the repayment of which we are all collectively responsible. Therefore we are all stakeholders in the bailout. We need to let our Senators and Representatives know that we want these dollars to purchase or insure the mortgages of people like us. Middle class wage earners who were lied to, misled, overleveraged, or whatever, by these shysters, and that the financiers whose greed superceded the national interest, and the best interest of their clients, should get not one dime.
We the people have the power to determine the final bailout deal with our vast numbers and the articulation of our voices in a way that we seldom do. National elections are 39 days away. The entirety of the House of Representatives, and one third of the Senate are standing for election. We need to let those who ostensibly represent us know that we are watching what they do and are conversant and cognizant about what they decide, and that we will vote accordingly. Then we need to actually direct our votes based on the stance taken by our current elected officials.
Those who vote to do nothing do not deserve our support. Those who vote to lower capital gains taxes do not deserve our support. Those who vote in favor of financial tycoons do not deserve our support. Those who vote for the same or more relaxed oversight and regulation do not deserve our support. Only those who vote to back the mortgages of our friends, neighbors, relatives, or ourselves deserve our vote. Determine the role of your representative or senator in these trying times and vote accordingly.