Ambivalence about the Congressional Vote for the Not-a-Bailout

Credit is unquestionably tight right now. Individual stock portfolios are in the pits—seemingly bottomless pits. The faux buoyancy of our politicians has evaporated (except Sarah Palin’s buoyancy, which seems anything but faux and far from slipping). Nobody knows whether the $700 billion “bailout” will accomplish much, or even whether it is a bailout or something else.

And I do mean nobody. Nobody has effectively explained how this infusion of government cash is supposed to help the situation. On the other hand, nobody has effectively explained how individual taxpayers could actually be hurt by the action that was taken.

But almost everybody has an opinion about the decisions made in Congress—being either emphatically for it or unequivocally against it. How can this be? What do so many people know and understand that completely evades me?

I’m ambivalent. But that statement has to be qualified, for two reasons. First, I’m not ambivalent about the “pork” or “earmarks” that were weaseled into the legislation. I hope we find out specific ingredients that have no real place in this bill-cum-law, and that we learn by name all those who “porked out.” I hope we find out before the election so we can vote on our representatives with real knowledge of their principles and behavior.

House Speaker Pelosi promises a “bright light of accountability” for greedy Wall Street denizens. But is she willing to shine the same bright light on the doings of Congress to get this bill passed? I’m skeptical. And I wonder if Pelosi herself could be in jeopardy in the November election.

Second, I believe the Fed, the Treasury, the President, and both houses of Congress acted precipitously and pumped hysteria into the atmosphere and needlessly panicked the rest of us. This resulted in self-fulfilling prophecy on fast forward. The market imploded. And we’ll all feel the reverberations of that. Maybe the government needed to step in, maybe not. But this was heavy-handed.

Finally, while I’m ambivalent the general action taken, I’m not indifferent. And if I knew more than I’ll ever know about what just went down, I probably wouldn’t be ambivalent at all.

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Source for “Helicopter Ben” sketch above:

About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

2 Responses to Ambivalence about the Congressional Vote for the Not-a-Bailout

  1. Doug Geivett says:

    Lucid, that’s pretty much the way I understand it, too. “Bailout,” “rescue,” whatever. Look how the market has “performed” since this fed move. Free fall. People are putting they have left under their mattresses. What will the banks do if nobody WANTS to borrow money?


  2. lucidlunatic says:

    My understanding of the primary action of the bail out is that the government is buying up bad investments, getting them off the books of other companies. This gives money to the companies and makes them ‘safe’ investments for the general public again. In the meantime, the government has all of those ‘bad’ investments and hopes that somewhere down the road they’ll be able to sell them at a profit. In the long run, that might happen.

    In my opinion, this ‘crisis’ was largely a crisis of public opinion. As soon as the people are told, or come to believe, that the market is going to do badly, everyone sells. And when that happens, the market crashes. Self-fulfilling prophecy, as you said. I haven’t tracked down who rang the warning bell first, so there’s no telling who’s to blame. On the other hand, once the downward spiral had begun, I think Congress had to do something. Did they do the right thing? Possibly. But if no one took advantage of a bill which needed to get passed to pass legislation they had been working on previously, they’re not human.


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