Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stimulus, Bailouts and Feeding the Sharks

This article was originally published at americanchronicle.com on Feb. 21st, 2009

Recently I´ve been hearing stories in the news of congressmen and senators complaining about the salaries and bonuses of certain CEOs in certain businesses. Now, I´m no fan of high paid CEOs and I doubt very much that any of them actually deserve to be rewarded with the obscene amounts they get paid. In fact, with the performances of so many companies down and judging from the fact that many of the companies they´re talking about should have gone bankrupt, these people hardly deserve to be paid at all. I have the feeling that none of them would be truly hurting if they were to lose their jobs. I think that such statements from these congress critters are diversionary tactics. I don´t blame the CEOs one bit for rewarding themselves; I blame those in congress who gave them the chance to do so.

I liken this situation to a fishing boat tossing chum overboard and then blaming the sharks for eating it. You can´t throw billions of dollars at banking institutions and the like and expect the CEOs to leave those funds untouched. They're not going to let all that fresh green ink just slowly settle to the bottom of the fiscal ocean without first getting their fill. Of course they´re going to gorge themselves. That´s what CEOs do. It´s simply in their nature. If you don´t want the sharks to eat the chum, then don´t dump it in the ocean in the first place.

A few months ago, when congress first began considering bailout bills, they received thousands of letters from their constituents asking them to vote against such bills. I remember some congress critters complaining about the flood of emails they were getting urging them to vote against such bills. They reportedly received so many emails that many congressional offices temporarily closed down their email services so they wouldn´t have to be aware of the clamor. I remember one congressman claiming he had received emails at the ratio of 300 to 1 against the bailout bill. I remember Nancy Pelosi coming out and saying her constituents were uninformed and that´s why they were so against the bill. It was reminiscent of a queen declaring her subjects ignorant as to matters of state and ignoring their cries for an end to injustice.

I can hardly believe someone like Queen Pelosi was re-elected to office after showing so publicly her disdain for the common folk of her district, and yet there she is still firmly in control. It makes one wonder about the validity of the electoral process we as a nation seem to take so much pride in. In fact, before the election of 2008 it was reported that congress had an approval rating of only twelve percent or so and yet something in the neighborhood of eighty four percent of incumbents were re-elected to their posts.

This was a congress dominated by Democrats who were put in power in 2006 to bring about change and stymie the administration of Mr. Bush. The people didn´t like his policies and they didn´t like the Republicans supporting him, so they thought a protest vote and a change of the party in control of the legislative branch would be enough to pressure the administration into stopping the war, bringing home the troops, and controlling the hemorrhaging of green ink that was occurring as a result of such bad policies. This didn´t happen. Why? Perhaps most congress critters simply don´t care what the commoners think, they care about what their major contributors think.

The Democrats kept approving military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than cutting our losses and forcing the administration to bring the troops home. The Republicans didn´t help as they supported W´s administration without question, despite their losses in 2006. It was business as usual. Despite warnings, congress allowed hundreds of billions and maybe trillions of dollars to disappear into the black hole of empire. The corporate friends and associates of those in power, the sharks, continued to circle Washington DC in a feeding frenzy and gorge themselves on emergency funds courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Then the credit bubble burst. Mr. Bush´s administration requested help from congress for the banking industry. Did congress tell him no? Did they chastise him for his mismanagement? Did they indict him for criminal behavior? Did they attempt to impeach him for high crimes and misdemeanors? No. Two years earlier they had taken impeachment off the table, most likely because an indictment of him would have highlighted their complicity in his crimes.

At first congress showed their displeasure by rejecting a four page bailout package which held up the appearance that they were catching on and cared about their constituency, but a little while later they passed an even more massive bailout package, at least a hundred times bigger than the original. This package was laden with pork for their districts, giving the sharks even more to gorge upon.

Did this action cause the masses to stand up and demand accountability? Did the common man stage mass protests to pressure these "public servants" to repeal their folly? No. The congress critters of this nation, shaken as they were, somehow managed to dodge the political bullet. Many of them deflected blame by claiming they had been tricked by threats of civil unrest, violence and mayhem in the streets, and the implementation of martial law if they refused to pass the bailout. Apparently many of their constituents believed their claims and forgave them for their naïve actions since so many were re-elected. For those exercising power and control over others, it was business as usual.

So more sharks came to congress. We listened to auto manufacturers begging for help. We heard their claims of job losses and bankruptcies and economic catastrophe if billions of taxpayer dollars were not infused into their companies. "Throw us more chum!" they seemed to be demanding. And our congress critters, myopic as they are, could only find fault with the fact that the CEOs had used private jets to fly to Washington DC. They couldn´t find fault in their own actions of stirring up the fiscal waters with the bank bailout in the first place. They couldn´t even realize that at least when the auto manufacturers used private jets they created jobs for the maintenance workers, pilots, airport personnel, etc. with those jets.

Last election cycle brought with it more propaganda, flag waving, and promises that were made to be broken. The new administration is set up to take credit for anything good that happens in the economy and to blame anything bad that happens on the previous administration. It´s a vicious cycle that´s been played out again and again over the decades. It´s business as usual for congress. No one ever admits to being at fault. Government keeps growing and there´s always someone else to blame. The buck hasn´t stopped being passed around since the Truman administration.

Now at last the money has come to the little fish. A stimulus package was passed last week despite major opposition to it. It was passed despite the fact that it was so big no one could possibly know everything it entails. It was passed despite the fact that no congress critter could have possibly read the whole bill. Again congress decided to ignore the wishes of many of their constituents and threw more chum into the financial ocean, this time hoping the sharks have had their fill and the little fish will be able to gorge. There´s a bit of a problem when the little fish go after the chum, however. There are still sharks in the water. Sharks have a tendency to gobble up the little fish along with the chum.

I don´t blame the CEOs for looking out for themselves. I blame the congress for throwing the chum in the water. More than that, I blame those who keep voting for incumbents despite the fact that they have proven they couldn´t care less about their constituents. I blame all those who still believe there´s a difference between Democrats and Republicans when it´s been shown they are all big government statists who for the most part only take care of their big money contributors. They will continue to feed the sharks until they are held accountable for their activities, and it is up to the common folk of this nation to hold them accountable.

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