"I voted against the bill because it gave the Secretary of the Treasury -- a political appointee -- unfettered control over the execution of the bailout program. If the bill had passed, the Secretary of the Treasury would have had absolute authority to decide which securities to buy, from whom to purchase, and how much to pay. The Secretary of the Treasury would have also had absolute authority to decide who he would hire to manage the assets he purchased...." --Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) )statement on bailout vote via Blue Hampshire
Questions for Margaret Atwood in Sunday's NYT magazine. She's the Canadian novelist whose newest book, surprisingly, is the nonfiction Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth
How would you compare household debt to the budget deficit run up by the federal government, which is now more than $400 billion? Sooner or later, the householder has to pay up or declare bankruptcy. The federal government, on the other hand, has what they think of as an infinite source of money -- namely, you. You can't say, "I'm not going to pay my taxes." You're a cash cow.
Why do you think the Bush administration has spent so extravagantly? They've been allowed to get away with it. Nobody has held them to account and whoever did was called not patriotic and a bad person. So, Spend-O-Rama.
"Riding Out the Credit Crisis" by Douglas Rushkoff, which originally appeared in May, was republished by Arthur Magazine yesterday. It's a lucid explanation of What Happened.
First, how it all began:
This economy of markets was created to give the rising merchant class in the late middle ages a way to invest their winnings. Instead of actually working, or even injecting capital into new enterprises, they learned to "make markets" in things that were scarce. Or, rather, in things that could be made scarce, like land.
That's how speculation was born. Speculation in land, gold, coal, food...pretty much anything. Because the wealthy had such so much excess capital to invest, they made markets in stuff that the rest of us actually used. The problem is that when coal or corn isn't just fuel or food but also an asset class, the laws of supply and demand cease to be the principle forces determining their price. When there's a lot of money and few places to invest it, anything considered a speculative asset becomes overpriced. And then real people can't afford the stuff they need....
...Bush's tax cuts and other measures favoring the rich led to the biggest redistribution of wealth from poor to rich in American history. The result was that the wealthy--the investment class--had more money to invest, or lend, than there were people and businesses looking to borrow.
Lots more about how the game is rigged, concluding with,
The more connected you are to the real world, and the more consciously you reject the lure of the speculative ladder, the less of a willing dupe you'll be in the pyramid scheme that's in the process of collapsing all around us at this moment.
Think small. Buy local. Make friends. Print money. Grow food. Teach children. Learn nutrition. And if you do have money to invest, put it into whatever lets you and your friends do those things.