Monday, March 16, 2009

Right-thinking among righteous anger

by Doug Drenkow

After reading about the dangers of righteous anger in the current economic crisis ...

Bracing for a Backlash Over Wall Street Bailouts

... I asked myself a few questions.

If the economy is to recover, do we need to put the banking and financial system on a new, sound footing? Absolutely. No economy can function without a functioning financial sector.

Since the taxpayers have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in AIG and other financial companies because they are "too big to fail" -- that is, they'd take the rest of us down with them -- doesn't that entitle the taxpayers to some say in how that money is spent? And entitle the taxpayers to some rewards, down the road, for covering the risks? Of course.

And if the companies couldn't survive without the taxpayers' assistance -- like the 80% share of AIG the U.S. Treasury has bought -- shouldn't the shots be called by the U.S. government, not executives giving themselves hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses for their "performance" (Lord, forgive us our ungodly thoughts)?

Whether you call it "nationalization" or "rationalization" or any other "zation" in the nation, we need to just do what we need to do and 1) not let ideology ("Never nationalize") trump common sense ("We the people are already paying the price, because nobody else could"), and 2) not cut off our nose to spite our face (Don't let our entire financial system collapse just to punish a limited number of individuals).

In the short term, stop the bleeding before it's too late (and enough already with these insane, obscene bonuses!). And in the long term, never again let so much money and power accumulate in so few hands, in any sector of our economy. We're all too important to fail.

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