Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Politics and Economics. Can anything be more dismal?

Here is a couple of places I have visited today that I thought I would share.  Now I will go on and visit some more sites.  Will come back later if anything interesting pops up.

Crabby Old Lady at Time Goes By covers just about all the bases on the problem with politics generally, and the Presidential primary races in particular.  Go here for the details.  I can't express it better.  I will add that I have been disillusioned for many years with the pie-in-the-sky promises politicians make just to get elected and then ignore when they are elected.  I would much rather hear someone tell me honestly what they think we need and that they will try to get a program passed to address the issue. If I agree with them I will vote for them. If not, not.  I am tired of being pandered to.  I wish they would be humble enough to acknowledge that they are not running for Savior.  

Dean Baker at TPM Cafe asks the fundamental questions concerning the sub-prime mortgage mess.  What ever happened to the notion of a 'free market'?  

"With so many people on all sides of the political spectrum desperately seeking the government’s help, those of us in the sidelines have to ask: “whatever happened to the free market?” 

We remember all those lectures about how important it is to remove protective barriers for U.S. manufactured goods like steel, cars, and textiles. The smart people who teach economics and write newspaper columns and editorials told us repeatedly how U.S. workers would just have to adjust to the global economy. If they couldn’t make a living doing what they were doing, then they would have to either learn a new skill or work at the minimum wage in a fast food restaurant. Protectionist barriers were bad for the economy and therefore out of the question.

They gave a similar story when it came to welfare reform back in the mid-nineties. Mothers receiving welfare were told that they had to learn to work for a living. While there were promises of work supports in the form of child care, health care, and housing assistance, the government never seemed to have enough money to be able to provide the working poor with a decent standard of living.

But, now that the people who are hurting are the Wall Street financial types -- people who make tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions, a year -- the government cannot possibly move fast enough to rescue those in need. They want the government to write blanks checks that could even exceed a trillion dollars (who would even ask about a price tag at a time when so many rich people’s finances are at stake?) to keep the richest people in the country from losing their shirts due to their own incredible negligence and stupidity in managing the country’s largest financial institutions."

Some time ago one of the bloggers I read regularly (sorry I don't remember which one or I would cite by name) described the situation as one of capitalism for the masses and socialism for the bankers, or big corporations, or whichever elite you care to name.  I for one have no great sympathy for the bankers and financial institutions who have lost big on this gamble.  I feel some sympathy for some, but not all, of the homeowners who are caught in this mess.  There were many who were just plain greedy, who engaged in flipping properties, or who looked at the acquisition of a house as an investment to be cashed out as quickly as possible. But from my own past experience as a home buyer I know it is very easy for a borrower to get caught up in situations they don't really understand and don't realize they don't understand.  And I found out that even the nicest and most ethical of real estate agents are not to be completely trusted.  After all their interests are not completely coincident with they buyer's.  So far however, the few plans that deal with the pain of (the few 'worthy') homeowners about to lose their homes would allow some of them to stay in their homes but give the banks absolution for their part in creating this mess.   

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