Saturday, September 20, 2008

Profit is privatized, risk is socialized

The American economy gave up useful productivity for the sake of inventing new and ever more esoteric and innovative ways to gamble on financial instruments - mortgage securities, derivatives and all the rest. The rest of it was sent overseas. This gives 25 year olds on Wall Street a good living and a lot of CEOs ridiculous packages of salary and benefits but doesn't do *&%$ for the rest of us. Then when the whole contrivance goes belly up, as anyone looking at this from any other venue than from the pages of the Wall Street Journal could have seen coming - guess who gets to pay for it all? You watch - the stock prices of all the remaining banks and brokerage houses will go up in the next few days, because every bad loan on their rolls will be foisted on the rest of us as part of this bailout.

We've been neglecting our infrastructure for 30 years - and it takes bridges falling into rivers to get anyone to spend any money on it. It's clear we need to spend significant amounts of money on roads, bridges, railroads, green and renewable energy etc., and just before the election that may finally allow this to happen, lo and behold, we "have to" spend three quarters of a trillion dollars bailing out Wall Street. So guess what - the money for infrastructure won't be there. I guess flushing the money down the toilet in Iraq wasn't enough for these people.

But dare suggest raising taxes and it's a criminal offense. It all goes on the credit card. If this is really so important, isn't it worth, you know, actually paying for it?

The next time you hear anyone talk about "values" or the cosmetic habits of farm animals, just remember - three quarters of a trillion dollars going to make sure that Mr. Potter's contemporary equivalent doesn't have to sell his fifth house.

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