Let Them Fail

I've been saying for a while that the $700 billion figure for the bailout is nothing more than a conservative stake in the ground and that through assumption of debt and acts other than the direct disbursement of cash, the federal government's gifts to the ultra-rich will extend into the trillions. Go read this article on Bloomberg.  Then, if you're still conscious, come back.

Seven and three-quarter trillion dollars is a sum so incomprehensively large that most Americans can't get their heads around it.  It's so huge as to be meaningless to most people you'd run into on the street.

The Bloomberg reporters try to put this into context, apparently because they seem to be one of the only ones who understand how important it is for people to grok exactly how much money this is.

The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.

I dunno about you, but my household's share of that sum is $72,000.  The government wants to take $72,000 from my family and give it away to corporations.

For what?  We can't still be talking about bad mortgages and the securities tied to them.  Look at the last sentence of that quoted paragraph.  This money could pay off more than half the country's outstanding mortgages.  You could probably knock half off everybody's mortgage at this point and watch the capital that's freed up jump-start the economy.  (Of course, that's a ridiculous notion, but it goes to show that Congress would have us believe that this is a much bigger bogeyman.)

What we're seeing here is the flagrant looting of the U.S. Treasury.  If President-Elect Obama doesn't do something, our futures will be given away, consequence-free, to the ultra-rich.  Plain and simple.

What's the solution?  Stop throwing good money after bad and Let Them Fail.  Someone will buy up their assets and make them work more efficiently.  Citigroup isn't worthless.  Neither are the Big Three American auto manufacturers or the big financial institutions.  Someone will revalue those institutions, or pieces of them, and make them work.  But for that to happen, we have to remove the safety net and Let Them Fail.

Yes, it will suck.  Yes, we will all have to suffer.  It's better than the alternative, which is the notion that we move from a democratic system of government and a capitalistic economic system to a corporatist system, where the government is merely an instrument that allows large corporations and the ultra-rich to extort money from the people.

Under a system like that, large corporations and the executives that run them will play under a different set of rules.  They'll be able to run their companies as they see fit, with no consequence for failure.  You and I will make up for their inefficiencies as we're tasked with bailing them out when they fail and keeping them in a position of power - one where we don't really own our own property, since our property can be taken at will from us by corporations via the federal government.

Of course, it might not get that far.  Consider that, if the dollar is significantly devalued, those with large sums of money might be the only ones who can afford to maintain their lifestyle.  In short, it won't matter if you make $250,000 a year, the threshold at which President-Elect Obama believes you to be wealthy.  That $250,000 won't be able to pay for the lifestyle you're used to under today's expectations of the value of the dollar.  Only someone making over $1,000,000 a year will be able to afford that lifestyle.  Get it?  The ultra-rich are lengthening the yardstick.

Do something, President-Elect Obama, before there's no middle class left to defend.