Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Greed vs. Need: The Bailout

The greed!
I, and most other people, know that to get a home loan, in very simple terms, you should have a 20% down payment, or close to that and you'll pay PMI, AND be able to afford a monthly payment of approximately 25% of your net income. Yet, the S&L's (again!!!), banks, other mortgage lenders and their loan employees loaned money to people who could not meet these basic criteria, even to the point of employees fudging numbers to make the loan and increase their profits/commissions. Then there are the well-to-do "flippers" who helped drive up home prices and contributed to the housing bubble, in order to line their own pockets. When they fixed up homes and drove up the prices, they also made most of those homes unaffordable for a large number of people who could have afforded the home at the original price and fixed up that home over time, when they could afford to make upgrades.

Now, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Washington Mutual, etc., etc. etc. have failed, gone bankrupt or have been taken over by the federal government, using citizen's tax dollars. So, now, people's tax dollars are essentially paying for other people's mortgages and the failing/bankrupt businesses and business practices of irresponsible lenders who have pocketed billions in unsavory mortgage loans...until the weight of these bad loans toppled right over onto them. Then, they cry out, "Please help me!?" I'm so disgusted at this!!! All this is thanks to an irresponsible government who just stood by and watched as all this happened, doing nothing to protect its citizens.

Then we have the loansharks...oops, I meant credit card companies. This industry has been deregulated and is out to squeeze every drop of money they can out of the average U.S. citizen. The federal government has, again, just stood by and watched as this has happened, doing nothing to protect its citizens.

The average citizen pays a larger percentage of their income in taxes than do citizens in higher income brackets. The average citizen's ability to use income tax deductions has been removed or reduced and their ability to file bankruptcy has been reduced. The higher income brackets tend to be able to use the remaining tax breaks and can more easily file for bankruptcy under current rules. The entire tax structure favors the weathiest citizens and corporations, some of whom laugh all the to the bank bragging how they didn't even need to pay a penny in income taxes after filing all their deductions and using all their tax breaks! Here, the federal government has actively made this happen, doing nothing to protect the majority of its citizens to gain the favor of and further increase the wealth of its already-wealthiest citizens.

Sounds a lot like business as usual in Washington, D.C. All for the corporations and the rich, the heck with the average citizen. The modus operandi for the past 8 years has been greed, excess, and corruption in government, on Wall Street, in the Banking and Mortgage industry, and in major Corporations (in particular, Big Oil). Shame on those in government who were put in their positions of trust to serve and protect all the citizens of the United States of America, not just the wealthy!

The need?
Well, the need is in the emptied pockets and bank accounts of the average United States citizen who has financed all of this under extreme duress. We're dealing with the loss of our homes, record-high fuel, food, health care, and energy prices, as well as exorbitant, loanshark-like credit card interest rates and unaffordable housing in our largest cities. Many of us can't afford health care. We have the highest rate of unemployment in over a decade. Our jobs are being sent overseas to "fair trade" partners and other countries whose citizens earn far less than do average U.S. citizens who only ask for a reasonable, living wage. The tainted and poisoned products that are produced overseas are then imported into this country, killing people and pets, and endangering the health of all citizens.

The gap between the middle-class and the wealthy is the widest it has been since the late 1920's. Unions, who have always worked to protect the average worker and obtain for them a living wage, are ridiculed by politicians and, of course, corporations and business owners. Union power and influence to protect the working-class is also at it lowest point in many decades. Through the 1960's, most average-income households only needed one income to survive. Today, many average-income households require more than two incomes to survive. People are working two, three and four jobs just to make ends meet or are trying to work a full-time job and go to school at night to better themselves and their families.

More of the need...our nation's children.
Now, because their parents are working so much, a significant percentage of our nation's children are raising themselves: teachers are seeing young elementary school children trying to take care of their even younger siblings, including getting them up, dressed, and to and from school. There is no adult at home to watch them, academically prepare them to enter school, teach them manners and to respect themselves and others, or to even check their homework, before or after school. They may see a parent for a few minutes between jobs. Other children are in abusive situations, in homes with domestic violence, or in homes where parents are constantly fighting with each other (many times over finances or due to financial stress) and come to school just to feel safe or to simply have some peace and quiet; these children often don't do well academically because they're so traumatized and upset they can't concentrate. Now, add to this mix the children of legal aliens and the large amount of children of illegal aliens swelling our educational system. Research shows that it takes anyone 5-7 years to acquire academic language, yet our government expects proficiency well before this. Many children in the education system sit in front of televisions and video games a large part of each day, learning questionable behaviors and language, not reading or spending adequate time on homework, or in discussions, or playing cards, or board games with their parents and siblings. Many don't get enough exercise or eat balanced, nutritional meals.

The government needs to fund education, instead of creating educational mandates it doesn't fund, reducing education spending, refusing to pay teachers what they're worth, and then reducing teacher benefits, to boot. Then the government, the press and the general public ignore all of the above and blame teachers for the all the ills of "the broken education system." Sorry, but teachers are NOT scapegoats. Look at the source (see ALL of the above and make ALL of them accountable, too).

We also need a full-scale medical care net under us - the lack of which is morally unconscionable in "the greatest and richest country on earth." People shouldn't have to choose between buying medicine and getting medical care or buying food (some of it poisoned, imported from other countries without adequate health regulations and oversight). Human beings shouldn't go without medical care because they can't afford it, or have to file for medical bankruptcy when they do get health care! Did it ever occur to anyone that there would be more new business start-ups if we all had affordable health care and didn't need to hold down a job just to get medical insurance? When people start new businesses, our economy grows, makes us more competitive in world markets, and leads to more technological innovations.

We need a government that controls its borders, and prosecutes and returns illegal aliens to their home countries. Benefits of citizenship and legal immigration should not be given to illegal aliens: they are criminals, hence the term il-legal (the prefix il- means "not," hence, illegal means not legal)! U.S. citizens who are criminals tend to be in prison, but not illegal aliens. They get free health care, free education, lower in-state college tuition rates even though they are not legal residents (because they are illegal aliens), are free to move about this country, and then send a huge amount of their income out of this country to their native homes and families. Maybe We the People should become illegal aliens (just kidding)! As for the very valid reasons for which many illegal aliens have left their native countries, they should be dealt with by an appropriate combination of diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, and United Nations human rights interventions, instead of leaving our borders as open as sieves.

We need an EPA and FDA (and other agencies) who have not had political appointees gut the basic tenets for which these agencies had been formed: protecting the American people, our environment and wildlife (when you protect the environment and wildlife, you also protect the American people; when you pollute the former, you poison the latter). The authority, policies and employees of these agencies need to be returned to a point at which America and Americans are once again protected, rather than those who have been protected lately: pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as corporations. Check out the dvd Food For Thought and look up the story on the courageous whistleblower Fox news reporters who refused to change the facts in their story on Monsanto to satisfy corporate advertisers. Find out why our genetically modified foods aren't labeled, why the corporate-owned press says nothing to warn consumers, and why European Union countries refuse to import these products. Find out about the small farmers being harassed and sued by Monsanto for patent infringment when Monsanto's uncontrolled gmo seeds simply blow into fields and grow, or cross-breed with natural seed products, forever tainting the seed supply, all at no fault of the farmers. Yes, it is Monsanto's responsiblity to control their own seeds and test fields. It would help if their test fields weren't purposefully left open and uncovered, rather than sequestered and covered as they should be as the experiment they are. There are still no independent, long-term studies on the affects of gmo products on human health. Find out what private corporation now owns most of the natural fruit and vegetable seeds in the western hemisphere, and can remove these natural seeds from the market in favor of selling their gmo seeds. Ask yourself if you believe our food supply is secure? Ask yourself what those who ultimately control the food supply will do with all this power over the lives of billions of human beings? Who suffers from the greedy, irresponsible whims and price gouging of monopolies and corporate-run government agencies? The average U.S. citizen, again.

As for bailouts...we need a government that knows it's not supposed to bail out the private sector. Conservative Republicans pushed for a free market economy with little or no regulation or governmental oversight. We the People got the market for which that small, special interest group advocated. Of course, this really served both the interests of the administration and its corporate "friends." So now we have a new form of government welfare for their corporate and financial institution cronies, all paid for by U.S. citizens. It's kind of ironic, though, because the government wouldn't bail out its own, responsible, average working-class citizens who have paid their bills, worked hard, and tried to save some small amounts of money. The government is also ready to spend billions of dollars in Iraq with cost-plus, no-bid contracts, yet can't ensure that all of its own citizens get adequate, affordable health care. It can literally go to bed, share drugs with and freely give subsidies and royalties to Big Oil, yet can't seem to figure our why the oil companies are making record profits while its citizens have to choose between eating and getting to work. Another part of the problem is in anti-trust laws, government oversight and regulation, and all those monopolies, which have become unregulated ultra-monopolies. Whatever happened to healthy competition? Who suffers from the greedy, irresponsible whims and price gouging of monopolies? The average U.S. citizen, again.

What the average United States citizen needs is the restoration of the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and balance among the three branches of government. Our founding fathers must be turning over in their graves at the outrageous abuse of executive privilege and political power during the past eight years! We need our leaders to adhere to the tenets of the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, actually follow the rule of law of this country, and run free and clean elections without a single voter disenfranchised, vote stolen, voting machine used that doesn't have a paper trail, or single case of voter fraud. What we need is a government that doesn't use fear-mongering to artificially control the behavior, opinions, attitudes, and votes of its citizens. What we need is a government that actually and effectively comes to the aid of its own citizens in times of disaster.

We need our country's Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates to answer direct, unscripted questions from the public and the press. Your unavailability for true discourse is a huge red flag to us and reflects badly on your ability to lead this nation. If you cannot answer questions, you can't lead, and none of you should be elected. You are supposed to convince us why we should elect you, not create pretty speeches, produce cool sound bytes, remove yourselves from the public and their questions (obviously, you'll do this when you're in office), and bash each other.

We need a press that will stop following these candidates around like puppies waiting for treats until these candidates are willing to answer real questions from the press and the public. If the press stopped covering the canned news and speeches of the candidates, the candidates would quickly feel the vacuum of coverage, and would be forced to engage in active discourse. We need politicians to stop using and manipulating the press. We need our press to stop acting essentially as publicists for the candidates and begin to act in their capacity as advocates for the public, as the Fourth Estate. We also need the press to continue this on all fronts in relation to the honest reporting of facts, even when these facts go against the interests of their corporate policies or corporate advertisers' interests.

We need a free press, as well. A free press plays a huge role in the workings of a democratic republic. Freedom of the press enables American citizens to learn facts, find truthful information, and listen to a variety of opinions in order to make informed, educated opinions and decisions. When the press isn't free, the people usually aren't, either. When journalists and press photographers are arrested, while covering legal demonstrations where police are not wearing their legally required identification badges (so they can't be identified and prosecuted) and are using stun grenades and tear gas on peaceful demonstrators, the American people are not free. When members of the press are investigated, harassed, put on no-fly lists, and purposefully and erroneously branded as "terror suspects," "liars," or are simply fired from their jobs to prevent the truth from reaching the American citizen, the American citizen is not free.

Finally, we, the middle class, as Lou Dobbs of CNN often says, are "the backbone of this country." We have known for a fact that our economy is not strong for quite some time now. It hasn't been working for us for at least eight years. Those of us who haven't already lost our home, and are still trying to hang on to it, certainly don't have any problem remembering how many homes we own. That number would be one, and hopefully we can hold onto it through this uncontrolled, economic fiasco. We certainly don't respond by saying things such as 'I don't know, around 7,' like McCain did when he was asked how many houses he owns. Today, McCain even stated he believes "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." What We the People, who elected these politicians, need is a government that works for us, instead of a government that works for lobbyists, corporations, financial institutions, PACS, and special interest groups. We need our government, corporations and financial institutions to be managed ethically and responsibly, with a clue that they are here to serve us, not the other way around. Here's a clue for all of you: your customers, the average citizens of the United States of America are NOT happy with the status quo. Never underestimate the "little guy" and don't be like those guys at Enron who actually laughed at "screwing" us over. What would happen if We the Needy People bailed out on you, the Corrupt and Greedy!

(P.S. The photo of the dollar bill was actually a bill one of my dogs got a hold of, chewed up and had partially eaten. I would never tear up money, myself.)

1 comment:

  1. I can not help but to feel maliciously happy and angry at the same time seeing financial giants, such as Fannies, Lehman...etc falling down. For years now they spread propaganda of free market mythology (you know the rant: the market is best if it is running free without regulation, interferences). Many poor idiots in this country are fooled by those corporate think tank's version of Capitalism. Once upon the time they're proudly declaring that Capitalism is the cure of all problems in society. Social safety net was cut, dismantled. Money was channeled to the wealthy investors made them richer, fatter - all in the name of "trickle down economy" theory. Stupid people who every member in the family works lot of overtime or two jobs, drive big SUV, buy MacMansion in borrowing money think that they have made it. They were fooled into thinking that they are the middle man (or "middle class" as many phony politicians/corporate CEOs pretended, every time they're on the podium to make speech) on the way to the high society, and that the private club is opening its door to everyone. The whole society is sickening with wastefulness and consumerism. Everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones - the more phoniness, wastefulness, the better. Now it was them, and us, and including all the poor people who could never afford to buy/own stock, mutual funds are paying for the rich, fat, mega corporations to keep them survive so that they can brag about the greatness of free market competition and Capitalism. Those slogans had been packaging in the name "Conservative', selling by the all political parties, especially by the Republican like hot cake. Now it's time "let the people eat cake". Money, once again, is channeled from the poor to the rich. Those corporation are all "PRIVATE" when they make profits, suddenly become "PUBLIC CONCERN" when they are failling.


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