Let's set aside the demands of the extremists on the right, calling for more deregulation and tax cuts to address the financial crisis. It's like trying to discuss the finer points of Plato with a small, yapping dog. Otherwise, I can understand the desire on the left and right to "punish Wall Street" by defeating the bailout plan. Unfortunately, the markets are so intertwined and inherently fragile, the first casualties are going to be on "Main Street" (a bittersweet anachronism for a nation that has mostly abandoned its main streets).
Wall Street -- and increasingly overseas investors -- owns Main Street.
The plan voted down yesterday was flawed but better than the original Czar Paulson contraption, which would have given the former head of Goldman Sachs unlimited access to use American treasure trying to extinguish the wildfire he and his greedy buddies started. Well, not quite -- and here we get back to the unworkability of "punish Wall Street" argument. Deregulation, a casino-like attitude on Wall Street and a bubble-blowing Fed were the biggest culprits in the mess. But, so, too were the American people.
We voted in the deregulators and stood cow-like as it happened, the jobs disappearing, wages stagnating. Worse, too many of us thought we could get rich quick off real estate, like day trading before it. We bought overside houses and ran up credit-card debt we couldn't afford. We bought SUVs to drive ever-longer distances as oil was peaking. We wanted tax cuts that gutted our schools and infrastructure. We wanted all that stuff at Wal-Mart. The casino became our ruling totem. It's quite a remove from the generation of the Boomers' parents that saved and waited to make purchases until it could afford them. It's their passed-along wealth that is helping cloak the "banana republic with nukes" that we're becoming.
So here we are. Were it not for the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, we would already be seeing bread lines. And how many better ways could we use $700 billion...