26 September 2008

Budget, bailouts reveal reprehensible values

I am no fan of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but she never uttered more true words than on 24 Sept. when she told an NPR reporter: “Our budget is a statement of our national values.”

Forget what governments and politicians say, especially during election season, but if you want to know what they collectively value, what they believe is important, and then looks at the budget they craft with our tax dollars. What does government fund, what does it ignore, and who pays for it? And the ugly answer has increasingly become war without end, tax breaks for the already wealthy, and, now, a proposal to purchase home mortgages and others credit products from the very same corporations that have been proclaiming that government had no right to interfere with the “invisible hand” of the free markets. What government interference meant to these bloodsuckers was, of course, regulations designed to prevent the very Wall Street meltdown we are now witnessing. True to the form, the original request to Congress from the most corrupt administration in U.S. history was to give $700 billion in authority, without any discussion, and entrust the whole kit and caboodle to one man, the Treasury Secretary, who incidentally, is the former chairman and CEO of the global bank holding company Goldman Sachs and has a personal net worth estimated at $700 million.

The estimated cost of War on Iraq, which was designed to preserve U.S. strategic access to the energy-rich Middle East and to establish the nation as the world’s chief bully, is estimated to costs $3 trillion, according the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Kennedy School of Government Professor Linda Bilmes. The proposed $700 Wall Street bailout, combined with other recent rescues, could easily top another $1 trillion.

This is an outrage beyond rational response. I don’t want 50 cents of my tax money going to bail out any of these vultures which have preyed on working people with the full assistance of both political parties. Public intervention is not the issue, but what kind and for whose benefit? Why is Congress not debating a moratorium on all home mortgage foreclosures with pressure on lenders to renegotiate terms? Any assistance should be strongly punitive. Corporations that have profited at the public expense should have to pay handsomely for public assistance. There has been discussion of limiting compensation for recipient CEOs to $400,000 annually, which is equal to the president’s salary. I have a better limit: an amount equal to monthly unemployment benefits.