Grand Theft Taxpayer
John M. Peters
by John M. Peters
"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.
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