A BETTER PLAN WOULD BE TO USE THE BILLIONS EARMARKED FOR THE BAILOUT TO COMPENSATE THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER FOR WHAT THEY HAVE LOST
Once again, the good people of the United States are faced with a predicament; either use public funds to bail out an industry of scammers, fraud artists, and financial parasites, or face the uncertainty that the collapse of Wall Street and many of our largest financial institutions would bring to the nation.
As one who has followed this country’s ever-worsening financial situation for the past several decades with both fascination and horror, I say: let it fail. Let the infrastructure, the Merrill Lynches, the Lehman’s, the AIG’s, the banks and the retail credit companies collapse as victims of their own greed.
Then when these companies are no-more, and the doors are closed and the lights turned off, seize control of them in the name of the American people, financially stabilize them, and hire reputable financial industry executives at fair compensation to operate the now heavily regulated businesses.
Then in a month or two when calm is starting to be restored to Wall Street and the nation, launch criminal prosecutions of the men and women who were the architects of this disaster, and strip them of the funds that they obtained as a result of their criminal activities. The seized funds could then be combined with the money saved by denying the bail out, and both used to fund the reimbursement of the American people. In other words, for the first time in recent memory, prioritize the interests of Main Street over those of Wall Street.
Besides recouping our losses, there would be the added benefit of seeing many of Wall Street’s now penniless masters of the universe forced to comply with our nation’s unreasonably tough bankruptcy laws; laws that the financial industry crammed through Congress to, ironically, prevent middle class Americans –the people who are being called upon to fund this bail out - - from cheating Wall Street out of their usurious profits.
Now it is important that the reader not misconstrue this plan - - radical that it may be - - as merely a way of achieving justice for the middle class. Granted, that would be achieved. But more importantly, allowing Wall Street to fail would free us from becoming trapped in a feedback loop of constantly having to bail out industry after industry, that either through excessive greed, malfeasance, or just plain bad management find themselves facing collapse. Today it is Wall Street, tomorrow it could be the automakers, then Health Care, the airlines, the railroads, and on and on.
Putting on our business hats for a moment, what do ‘we the people’ have to game from this bail out, at least the way it is currently structured? Normally when individuals or businesses are asked to spend a huge pile of money - - as the Bush administration wants us to do - - to rescue an ailing industry, there is the guarantee not only of recouping the original investment but of earning interest on the money as well. As I see it, in this instance the likelihood of being paid back, let alone of collecting interest on the bail out, is somewhere between unlikely and non-existent. So money isn’t our motivation.
Equally distressing in this instance is that other than a few office buildings, used limos, Cayman Island hideaways and jet airplanes, there is not a hell of a lot of assets that could be liquidated, if it came to that to recoup our investment. For this reason, it appears that we have no choice other than to run the newly constituted companies for the long term in the hope of eventually turning an honest profit, and more importantly, of not saddling our children and their children with the unfair burden of paying for this mess.
It is also our responsibility as the current caretaker generation to see that the corporate leaders, who put us in this position, and their lobbyist and politician enablers, answer for their criminal activities. Failure to do so makes a mockery of our entire system of justice and their has been enough of that this past eight years.
Now you might say that being stripped of their ill-gotten gains is punishment enough, but no, it is not. Were the situation reversed and it was the middle class who stood accused of such criminal behavior, you can bet that Wall Street would be screaming for blood.
Now isn’t payback’s a bitch?