Bail Me Out

The more I think about it, all I really ever write about, in different contexts, is how we choose as a country what we give a shit about. How one politician is brave and manly and another is a puss, how one country is allowed to go to hell and another is The Central Front In The War, how on the one hand there’s no money for anything and on the otherwe’re shoveling it out of the back of a plane and nobody’s asking at all where it goes.

And it’s not so much that I’m arguing one choices versus another as that I’m arguing that the way we make these decisions is fundamentally fucked, to use a technical term. My furry illiterate children have longer attention spans than the average Washington policitian, and I may not know dick about economics but I know when you say something’s too expensive, you can’t then turn around and go on a spending spree like the world’s about to end.

And if it truly is more complicated than that, really and truly, you’d better find a way to explain it to me and everybody like me because right now, based on the extremely unscientific sample of talking to everyone I know about this, it looks like we’re doing something really fucking stupid to prevent the end of the world, which is gonna happen anyway no matter what we do. You’d better be able to explain one simple thing to me:

Where was their bailout?

Where was theirs?




Where was our country when our countrymen needed it most?

Where was the state of emergency, now occurring because the economy is melting from the top down, when it was crumbling from the bottom up?

Where were the demands we shove $700 billion into rebuilding this country, so that people could get to work, so that people could get to school, so that people could live in ways that wouldn’t shame us when we were occasionally forced to look ourselves in the face, where was the willingness of Congress to work weekends then?

I know it’s not news that men in suits have problems we care about and the rest of us just have tough luck, you can figure that out watching the evening news any night of the week, but every once in a while the blatant nonsensical bullshit of it just slaps me in the face anew, the things we bitch about having “no money” to pay for.

No money forthis.



No bailouts for them. No screaming headlines. No howling need for attention. Just pictures of traders on Wall Street, arms raised in despair, and again, it’s not that I don’t get it. On the contrary. I and most of the rest of America have been getting it for years. Getting it good and hard, in fact, and you couldn’t pay anybody currently having a freakout to care.


20 thoughts on “Bail Me Out

  1. Damn Athenae,
    I need a cigarette now. I love it when you get down to bidness, and write what I desperately wish I could write as succinctly.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I’d also question if the economic indicators are slanted towards a certain demographic.
    Similarly, although I am glad the market didn’t tank, I have conflict with the govt bailout based on liberal principles. Coming from taxes that the taxes of someone making minimum wage are paying the bailout while the principal people involved still walk away with a nice check.
    (Yet the windbag pundits aren’t quiet with their criticism that the taxes of the rich shouldn’t go to things they don’t use, like public transportation.).

  3. I admit I slept a lot in Economics 101.
    Bush wants $700 billion to buy up bad mortgages and bad securities. The total currency in circulation right now is about $830 billion. And more than half of that is being held outside the U.S.
    Isn’t this just a choreographed bank run? I think we’re flat broke.

  4. What bugs me most is Paulson saying he needs complete and utter control of this money, no questions asked.
    Haven’t we learned already that we can’t trust these guys?
    I wrote to Musgrave, Allard, Salazar, Reid, and Pelosi last night and will be calling their offices tomorrow. I tried emailing Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, etal, but their websites won’t accept email from non-constituents.
    We have to let our elected officials know we’re angry about this and expect them to stand up to Bush and Paulson.
    If the world is truly coming to an end, then how can they say no to oversight?! Call their bluff, I say.

  5. Somehow we are all supposed to work up some sympathy for the very wealthy who will suffer if the Financial Market, whatever that is, collapses. I just can’t do it. If they want a bailout, I will trade them a 90% tax backet on all income, from any source, over $1 million per year, a law against executives in any corporation making more in total compensation than 10X the average of non executives, and a 95% tax on the amount of any golden parachutes over $500,000 for anyone in any job. All of that extra tax money can pay for the bailout.

  6. I saw the weekend question below and I thought it said, “WHEN will they grow up?” Sigh.
    Here is the photo that says it all for me. From Dday.
    My thought? This is extortion.
    Great comments at Hullabaloo:
    How come we spend billions to track down the guys who took out the World Trade Center but not a nickel to find the guys who took out our credit system?
    cephalis | Homepage | 09.21.08 – 1:10 pm | #
    I love the way that the Bush administration (and the GOP) have been used the word “clean” to mean “exactly what I want.” It’s a brilliant piece of marketing. I mean, clean is better than dirty, right?
    New phrase: Clean like a blank check.
    Brett | 09.21.08 – 12:35 pm
    Welcome October Surprise — 10 days early.
    Of course, we have to give Bush everything he wants because he has never made a mistake or asked us to do something that would cost money or run up the deficit which he was going to reduce. Right…
    jojo | 09.21.08 – 12:36 pm

  7. You’d almost think this was part of a deliberate scheme to loot the US Treasury or something. This reads to me like the penultimate step in the Reaganite/Norquistian vision — bankrupt the government by effecting a massive upward transfer of wealth. The final step is, of course, retire far away to somewhere without an extradition treaty with the US on one’s purloined billions.
    (Bloody good damn thing they didn’t get their scabrous paws on the Social Security funds, isn’t it?)

  8. What I’m trying to figure out is exactly what we’re buying here. It looks to me like you have all these securities that were being leveraged 42 times, but at the heart of it, it’s a bunch of homes people got in over their heads with.
    So the U.S. Government is buying up all these loans, which means if they go into foreclosure, the U.S. Government will own a bunch of homes.
    Anybody else seeing this as a no-brainer? You want to deal with the housing crisis, it seems like we have a potential for a bunch of houses to go on the market. Rent them, at reasonable rents so they’re accessible for those who need them most and so those who’re renting them can save up a reasonable down-payment. The U.S. Government gets back a bunch of the money we’ve invested, people have places to live, and those same people have a chance to get back into a house down the road a bit.

  9. This is scary: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

  10. Jeebus! So why don’t we just pass a “Make George W. Bush King Act” fer chrissake.
    This is looking more and more stupid all the time.
    p.s. WRT my post at 8:57, ignore and go readDean Baker at TPM Cafe. His idea is way better.

  11. Screw Lehman Bros. and those of their ilk. They and their shareholders went for the mega-profit trail and they blew it (as I knew they would). I say “NO BAILOUT”!
    Where’s my bailout from the Federal Flood of New Orleans? Betts and I had to go to the SBA to BORROW money to fix the damage from that event. If we didn’t BORROW the money, we would have gone down. The same principle should hold true for the investment market, but unfortunately (HEH, HEH, HEH), they freakin’ can’t.
    It is time for Main Street to have parity with Wall Street. It is far past time for the Capitalists to face the Populace.

  12. [[“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”]]
    So they want to overturn Marbury v. Madison? I would say “Good luck with that,” but with this Supreme Court, refusal is not a slam dunk.

  13. All depends on how this is handled. The big boys are going to take a helluva loss on this IFF the “THE PLAN” (plan 9?) buys these loans at the marked down rates the banks have been selling them to each other for. If they’d then call each poor sucker holding one of those loans and offer it to him AT THAT COST, they’d get 3/4 of this monkey off the taxpayers backs in a flat hurry. This paper has been trading for ten or twenty cents on the dollar owed, if they gave me six months to come up with 24K to pay off my house, I’d be there with bells on!
    OTOH, if they decide to screw the public totally, well, even the dead can rise again and I do believe the Republican base would FINALLY move away from their insane overlords and try to get something going for real.

  14. Good article, reflecting the mood of the nation. When the nation is suffering with heavy debt and public is bleeding with so many issues of their concern the government is bailing out the few rich group from public money for their own mistake.
    The only alternative which we have is to reject in the coming election the republican and vote for democratic candidate Obama.

  15. Hi,
    I gotta say that I agree with you. This bail out money is being wasted on corporate giants who obviously have a problem handling money… so what do our politicans decide to do… give them more money to mishandle and abuse. How sick is that?
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