Grand Theft Taxpayer

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"The
government’s top economic experts warn that, without immediate
action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic
and a distressing scenario would unfold. More banks could fail,
including some in your community. The stock market would drop
even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account.
The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise
dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find
it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would
close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their
jobs. Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult
for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children
to college. And, ultimately, our country could experience a long
and painful recession."

~
President George W. Bush, September 24, 2008

"The
whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed
and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an
endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

~
H.L. Mencken

The
urge to compare the current financial crisis to the Great Depression
has proven irresistible. Pundits, economists and investment gurus
have all invoked its specter. However, this time in a bit of role
reversal it is Uncle Sam with the tin cup in hand asking taxpayers,
"Buddy can you lend me…700 billion?" Actually,
Uncle Sam does not want your money, he just wants to help out his
buddies on Walls Street. Gee, what a guy!

To
Sam’s amazement, those hearing his plea have turned him down flat.
This has included a host of foreign governments who evaluate Sam
as a lousy credit risk. So Sam’s begging has turned to threats.
No more Mr. Nice Guy! Taxpayers would surrender or face certain
disaster. Congress would ignore its constituents and approve the
package or else. What began as a recommendation quickly morphed
into a threat. It was Eco (as in economic) terrorism by the government,
which included hostage taking. As the week progressed and it was
becoming increasingly clear that the government’s latest scam was
not selling well on Main Street, the doom-and-gloom forecasting
was increased. President Bush was trotted out before a public which
had largely forgotten about him.

Like
the boy who cried wolf, Bush used dire predictions in hopes of reversing
public opposition to the bailout package. We had heard it all before.
If we did not authorize him to invade Iraq we could all perish within
45 minutes. If we did not surrender our rights through the Patriot
Act we would be overcome by Muslim hoards. Now we would all be living
in the streets if we did not authorize Uncle Sam to spend $700 billion
to reward bad business practices on Wall Street. The fear ploy went
over like a lead balloon. It had been used once too often. So, the
government began "offing" its hostages to enforce the
President’s threat. WAMU was "taken out" by federal regulators
Friday morning. The point of the gesture was unmistakable. The longer
Congress refused Sam’s demand for the loot the more "hostages"
would be executed.

As
of Friday the stand-off continued. The hostage negotiating team
of McCain and Obama volunteered their services but were politely
asked to butt out by those who saw their offer as a ploy to move
their sorry campaigns back to the front pages.

The
game of grand theft taxpayer will continue. It ends when Congress
fulfills its constituents’ determination to defeat the crime by
ignoring the fear-mongering and threats in favor of honoring the
Constitution and establishing sound fiscal policy.

September
29, 2008

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

John
M. Peters Archives

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