Henry Paulson: Crony and Snake in the Grass
Henry, Henry, Henry... I see you. I see what you are. I see what you're doing. And I wouldn't trust you if my life depended on it. Which, at the moment, it kind of does.
If you, dear reader, are a taxpayer--and I'm guessing you do fall into that category--Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's "bold plan" to guard against recession both at home and abroad should have you hopping mad and incredibly suspicious. The plan, which we have yet to see in a finalized form, would give congress the power to buy bad debt from private industry. The price tag mentioned in the media this morning? I hope you're sitting down... $700 BILLION dollars.
A quick civics lesson before we continue with this mind-popping discussion...
First, when it comes to decisions that affect taxpayers, one can currently define "the government" as people with actual power--which does not include you or me. When it comes to absorbing and paying off debt, however, "the government" does, in that instance, translate as "the People." Interesting how that works, huh...?
Second, the founding fathers intended something very different than the current scenario. They envisioned that "we, the people" would run the government. They established this country to pull us out from under the ugly thumb of tyranny. But they also fully understood that keeping tyranny at bay required constant vigilance. Unfortunately, as a people we have lost the will to be vigilant. In love with convenience, ease, and pleasure, we have left our employees to run the store. The employees, having discovered their complete autonomy, have long been robbing us blind. Perhaps you've noticed that the folks in Washington don't even make a show of consulting us anymore. Why would they? It doesn't seem to matter how bad things get. We can't be bothered. We continue to entrust our business to thieves while we float about in a bubble of self-chosen ignorance and oblivion. We should not be suprised by the consequences now coming home to roost. The book of Proverbs perhaps says it best: "Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor." (12:24)
Civics lesson out of the way, what in God's name, you may be asking yourself, is George Bush thinking? I had a moment of that reaction myself when I saw the news that our fine president had begun advocating a plan to put American taxpayers on the hook for somewhere in the neighborhood of half a trillion dollars in order to "protect us." But then I remembered: "Oh, right... George is beholden to the Federal Reserve." Whether out of active complicity or outright arm-twisting, our president will not look out for our interests in a crunch. He will always look out for the private stakeholders to whom we have become hopelessly indebted. They hold the purse strings... and the power. (If you read my blog entry of September 17th, you already know that the Fed is not a benevolent public central bank, but a dangerous private one.)
In 2006, George appointed Henry Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury. Henry... What have you done for us lately? Actually, what have you done for us ever? Good ol' Hank, his job history, and his behavior of record should make us all raise an eyebrow...perhaps two. Henry used to work for private investment bank Goldman Sachs, still under investigation for illegal behavior in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. That's right... He was a private banker before his recent appointment to public office. Guess where his loyalties lie...? Not with you and me but with his buddies in the banking industry--and by all indications with the Federal Reserve, an organization with which he seems to play a little too nicely.
Let's take a closer look, shall we? In his role as Treasury Secretary, Henry has consistently buried real numbers concerning America's actual level of debt, keeping the truth as far out of the public view as possible. He has repeatedly leapt to the rescue of failing private banks and other private enterprise rather than protecting the public interests of the taxpayers he swore to serve. He has waged a campaign of fear-mongering to justify his choices to our elected officials. ("The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" ...Probably is, Henry, but for whom...?) And now, in the same spirit of alarmism, he has developed the MOTHER of all bailout plans--offering up our finances to any troubled banks and businesses that might want them. "Step right up, ladies and gentlemen of Wall Street! Step right up, investment banks of Europe and Asia! Get your free money debt relief here in the good ol' U.S.A. at the expense of Joe Q. Public." Wow, Henry! Thanks! I feel better knowing you're up there in Washington looking out for me...NOT!
You think things are bad right now, friends? Wait till this charming little plan of Henry's goes through. And it almost certainly will as a result of his propagandistic messaging. Would it hurt if we didn't fork out half to three-quarters of a trillion dollars to "save" (and I use that word entirely sarcastically) private banks and business? We will almost certainly feel some ripple effects resulting from the mistakes and failures of others. And so will other world economies whose hands have become dirtied through their own involvement in much of the sub-prime ugliness. It won't be fun. But does a correction need to happen now? Yes, it does. It's kind of like going to the dentist. You put off going because you don't want to experience any pain. But the longer you wait, the worse the problem gets. By the time you finally make an appointment, you have not just a single cavity but several, along with severe periodontal disease. Your teeth are barely still in your mouth, chewing has become next to impossible, and your breath is rife with the pungent smell of rot. Delaying the pain of a financial correction will only wind us up in worse trouble later--trouble, frankly, from which I'm not at all certain we will then be able to extricate ourselves.
Here's what I find darkly laughable: George Bush, Henry Paulson, and all the rest of them standing around with their grim reaper faces saying how nerve-wracking it is to have to put the taxpayers at risk via this plan. They say this as if there is a chance that the taxpayers WON'T suffer as a result of this plan, that we'd somehow see any kind of return on our "investment" in blatant failure. I'm amazed they can speak with a straight face. If it were me, I don't think I'd be able to avoid smirking. It is, after all, one of the biggest and most sustained jokes the Federal Reserve and their political cronies have ever played on us. And we likely won't even get a chance to say no. Our "best interests" have already been determined by people who could actually care less about them and who, in truth, want to take everything we have.
Wake up, everyone. We have a responsibility to try, at least, to prevent greater impending disaster. Write your senators and representatives TODAY. We may not be able to stop what's about to happen, but we have no right to complain unless we make an effort. I, for one, would rather go down fighting than have the bootprints of fiscal Anschluss on my submissive backside.
Need a quick way to contact your elected officials? Visit the following web sites, which make it easy to find the appropriate individuals for your state:
U.S. House of Representatives
If you're too busy to come up with your own email or letter text, feel free to use mine:
I am writing to you to urge you in the most strenuous terms to reject any plan for the federal government to rescue currently failing or failed enterprises and institutions. Such an action would put myself and other taxpayers at enormous and unjust risk. Make no mistake: If such "rescue" measures are adopted, Americans who can ill afford it will be forced to pay for the mistakes of others.
The high-profile point of view currently circulating is that greater risk lies in NOT rescuing such institutions--institutions deemed "too big to fail." This point of view grossly misrepresents the truth. Yes, allowing such enterprises to fail will likely cause some short term pain for many; but unless we allow that discomfort now, the pain we experience later will be much more profound and far more sustained. In addition, we would continue to send a dangerous and foolish message to business that it can do whatever it wants without consequence--because the taxpayer will always clean up their mess.
I cannot state emphatically enough that I do not agree with ANY plan for the government (or the Federal Reserve in the guise of the federal government) to bail out institutions through buy outs or loans--regardless of the terms. Private enterprise must stand or fall on its own.
I would consider it a great misuse of the power of your noble office should you choose to support any such "rescue" measure.
I ask you to do the right thing in this difficult situation, Representative/Senator _______. The pressure on you will be intense to adopt a rescue plan. The arguments for such a plan will be fierce and persuasively worded. Don't be fooled. Reject such plans at all cost. They can only damage our economy further. Allow a necessary correction in our economy to occur now by permitting natural if painful consequences for abysmal business practices. It is always hard to say no. But in this case, you must.
Do not fail us.
Posted: Saturday - September 20, 2008 at 07:33 AM