Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From my pocketbook to yours

So there is no deal. No bailout forthcoming. Republican lawmakers had their feelings bruised by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning and decided to vote against bestowing $700 billion of your money and my money on the financial market. Troubled financial institutions will now have the same options as the rest of us. Now we will all have front row seats to the apparently impending catastrophic crash of our economy and the subsequent ripples to be felt around the world.

I wont pretend to know anything about finance and business. I withdrew while failing Accounting II in college; the closest I came to business or finance in graduate school was the budget planning section of my thesis. What I do know is how much money my husband and I earn and how much it costs to educate our children, put gas in our car and food on our table, and keep a roof over our heads. The wrangling in Washington and the happenings on Wall Street seem very far removed from my supermarket bill.

While my husband (pro fat cat capitalist) thinks me a bit socialist in many respects, I believe the markets should take care of themselves. I don't believe the government has any business holding interest in financial companies. (How is this different from the Russian government taking over oil companies?) Risk is inherent in all investments. Bad choices should have unfavorable results. There will be no congressional cavalry if I invest heavily in a firewood production company in Key West, nor should there be. If I choose to buy Manolo Blahniks and Stuart Weitzmans rather than pay my bills, I will have my light and water cut off. If I buy a house or a car I cannot afford, then I, like every one else living beyond their means, am carrying water in a basket.

As Jamaicans say "donkey seh di worl' nuh level." Regular people don't get bail outs from financial crises; whether they are self-inflicted or caused by external circumstances - unemployment or predatory lending. It seems to me that the people who claim expertise and take responsibility for other people's money should be held to a higher standard. Makes no sense to me that the more you lose and the more people you screw the better off you are.

I want a bail out that goes straight to the vein, not "trickle down to the masses" like the one proposed. Can we use some of that $700 billion to reduce gas prices? That would result in lower food prices at my Shop-Rite. Can we use some of that $700 billion to pay teachers and improve our public school system? Then paying tuition for private schools would be more of a choice than a necessity. Can we use some of that $700 billion to provide basic healthcare for the thousands of uninsured children across the country? That way we could save on the much more that is spent on emergency and chronic care. Can we use some of that $700 billion to revitalize and bring commerce back to towns and neighbors devasted by outsourcing and closed factories? That would create jobs and increase spending. That makes sense to me and would make me feel better about having to pick up the tab.

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