Posted by lex, on September 21, 2008
I’ve avoided blogging on the latest iteration of the financial market meltdown because, frankly, I don’t pretend to understand it. I mean, yeah: I get the part where traders desperate to sweep up the last few crumbs from the playing table in order to afford the last unsold house in the Hamptons deliriously undervalued risk, and no one was really paying close enough attention to the problem to understand its implications, and that structurally we’d set ourselves up to sell a bunch of mortgages to folks who probably couldn’t afford them because owning a house is part of the American dream and a Social Good In Itself, and that some folks had been systematically priced out – and after all, they meant only for the best! – I get all that.
What I don’t understand, frankly, is what we ought to do about it. Because it frankly beats the shit out of me. I’ve been trained more in the “take stuff apart” line of work than the “patch stuff back together” department. I don’t know if the Paulson plan will work – although $700 billion sounds like a Very Great Deal of money to me, to not know. Nor even if it makes practical sense to deliberately purchase out bad debt from banks that haven’t, as of yet, actually demonstrated their insolvency. I know it doesn’t make any kind of moral sense.
Still, even a bad plan executed violently in the now has advantages over a perfect plan executed even a second too late. Because at this point, the real issue seems to be that there’s too much uncertainty, everybody’s frightened and no one in the financial market wants to be the last guy caught out of his chair lending out cash when the music stops. So here we are now with all those Wall Street types peeking out from under their desks looking at that great big huge pile o’ cash and maybe – just maybe – breathing a sigh of relief and putting the revolver back in the desk drawer.
In times of crisis (hint: this is one of those times) I’ve never been a particular fan of the “Who shot John?” brand of deconstructionism. When the water’s coming up on the inside of the rowboat, the question about who left the drain plug out is not nearly so compelling as the fierce urgency of manning the pumps. There will be time for blame casting later, maybe.
So I’ve been largely silent on the issue, mostly because making sweeping pronouncements about things you fundamentally don’t understand very well is a pretty good way to highlight yourself in the weekly “spot the idiot” competition, while hyperventilating into the blame game megaphone while everyone else is making themselves busy doing something practical might paint you as, well: Unserious.
Not everybody can avoid that kind of temptation, unfortunately:
Let me first point you to the Bush administration’s so-called Wall Street bailout bill, here, so that you can see for yourself that this treachery is being conducted in the light of day. Fascism is finally and formally out of the right-wing closet even if the F word is not yet openly being used (although it should be, and often).
Now, if you do not yet understand that the Wall Street crisis is a man-made disaster done through intentional deregulation and corruption, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell to you (or Sara Palin does anyway). This manufactured crisis is now to be remedied, if the fiscal fascists get their way, with the total transfer of Congressional powers (the few that still remain) to the Executive Branch and the total transfer of public funds into corporate (via government as intermediary) hands…
As I see it now, we have but two options and I have long alluded to hoping against hope that one of these options would not be the only one left to a peaceful people. The first and frankly most preferable option is for Congress to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against the members of this latest Business Plot…
The other option, the one I have long prayed we would never need to even consider, is a total revolution. But, If Congress won’t act in its own self-defense, in the defense of democracy, in defense of us – the people who have elected them to protect us from this very danger – then what is left for us to do?
“What is to be done?” Now where have I heard those words * before?
Golly. Not the kind of guy to prescribe from a distance, but it certainly seems possible that someone needs to either up their dosage or change their meds. Because whatever you’re on now?
So not working. Sweetie.
Jeff Goldstein has more:
(What) I take away from such proclamations is a reinforcement of the idea that, to the progressive mind, those in their herd really are the only ones fit to govern — and that one more electoral loss means it’s time to rid ourselves of this pesky democratic republic and just smash the whole system so we can replace it with a system where those fit to rule have been bred that way, that we as a country be forced to recognize that the useful fictions we’ve been telling ourselves about citizen leaders will only suffice so long as it remains theoretical. For people to actually begin believing such nonsense — for them to vote in the wrong types of people and presume that progressives will simply accept that outcome — is simply too much to bear…
If Larisa and her fellow travelers were half as clever and talented as they imagined themselves to be, we’d all be wearing big fur hats and standing in line for potatoes and toilet paper.
* Link changed 03-21-18 – Ed.