Wall Street Rescue May Be Worst Legislation Ever

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The American
people spoke last week, and their rulers ignored them. That’s nothing
new, I know, but the passage of the bill to rescue Wall Street and
other corporate interests from being grievously injured by what
they themselves created in a frenzy of runaway greed is the most
egregious, morally repugnant piece of legislation to be signed into
law since – well, since when? I can’t think of anything more ghastly
in not only what it does but also what it implies about the future
of this nation of ours.

It provides
welfare for the mega-rich from the ordinary taxpayer. The rulers
will ride out falling markets on the backs of the masses, who were
told time and again during the drama preceding the enactment of
this thing that the reason they didn’t like it one bit was that
they – the little people – didn’t understand it and were too stupid
to applaud forking over hundreds of billions of dollars to their
betters in just the manner being prescribed. This unprecedented
raid on the public till had to be done lickety-split. Authority
figures agree, so who are we to argue? Why should there be hearings
when the experts were in agreement as to what should be done? Why
listen to any of the many dozens of economists who thought the measure
to be insane? It’s become trite to call this swollen, pork-laden
bill "socialism for the rich," but it is precisely that.

And these men
we have running for president, where are they on this? Initially,
both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama expressed their tentative
approval of the bailout, oops, I mean rescue bill, and then began
backtracking when the extent of voter disapproval made itself known.
A few days later, they came to agree on the necessity of it, thereby
illustrating beyond any lingering doubt that, as Ron Paul puts it,
"our one-party system is complicit in yet another crime against
the American people."

People being
what they are, many folks of a partisan bent like to blame the other
party for the mess we find ourselves assigned, against our will,
to clean up. Who dug the hole? Be assured that both Republican and
Democratic politicians have been shoveling away at it for many years.
Democrats say the GOP is at fault for foisting upon us various deregulations
that caused the mortgage mess that triggered the credit implosion.
But Tom Donlan says in Barron’s that the problem is not that there
weren’t enough regulators or regulations, but that the regulators
"were not sane." In an opinion piece, Mr. Donlan says,
"Regulation and regulated institutions encouraged the risk-taking,
helped to finance it and continue to excuse it."

Republicans
accuse the Democrats of pressuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into
creating a market for toxic mortgages. Again, Mr. Donlan: "Who
did the pressuring? A string of presidents and their appointees
at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a legion
of congressmen inspired by housing activists dreaming of home ownership
for all." Republicans. Democrats. They’re all in it together,
an idea those partisans and their media champions find difficult
to accept, even though it seems to me undeniable.

I
find it strangely satisfying that Congressman Paul, the little Texan
who was soundly thrashed in his Quixotic quest for the Republican
presidential nomination – the man who was laughed at and mocked
as a kook when he tried to alert us all to the fragile and unsustainable
nature of our money system – is now seen by more and more Americans
as the one politician who told us the truth. No wonder the system
spit him out.

The plan bulldozed
through Congress last week carries with it dire implications about
the future of our country. To redistribute income upward as this
does means the game is over. We live in an age looking suspiciously
like that of other empires in their late periods of decay, and if
you don’t know what that portends, it’s probably just as well.

October
9, 2008

Ron
Smith [send him mail] can be
heard weekdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., on Baltimore’s 1090 WBAL-AM and
WBAL.com. His column appears Wednesdays
in The Baltimore Sun.

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