Thursday, September 18, 2008

A "Lily" For Our Time

I heard that Congress is flummoxed about what to do in the midst of the financial crisis. They don't know what to do.

It's a whole new game, they say. They don't know the rules.

That's ironic. Of course they don't know the rules. Congresses abolished a lot of the rules and that's why we are where we are. As one commentator put it, the financial world has had no grownups in charge for a while. We used to know how to put real value on financial instruments--you had third parties do it it instead of the people who used the instruments to convince other people to lend them (or give them) money based on that value.

"Well, you know, this here piece of paper is worth a lot of money--cause I say it is."

There's a good start--stop that nonsense.

Just start by going back and looking at the oversight that has been abolished.

This is not a new game. It's a very old game.

The game is called, now "privatizing profit and socializing loss."

My old Daddie used to call it "everyone wants socialism for themselves and free enterprise for everyone else."

And the Republican leadership in Congress is saying that we should all be concerned the size and the frequency of these bail outs.

Sigh. That's why the "Lily" goes, today, to Republicans in Congress. Cynicism on a stick.

When Republicans thought we were over run by crime they didn't wonder whether it was a good idea to pour all those resources into cops and prisons--they were were worried by what is was they said made all those cops and prisons "necessary:" crime.

We should, yes, be concerned about the size and frequency of these bail outs and I think the place to concentrate our concern is on how these became necessary. They became necessary because the ideology of the freedom in the market place displaced the ideology of responsibility and sound financial judgment. And that didn't happen by accident. People made a bundle on making it happen.

How could anyone possibly think that the way to financial strength was letting people make money by creating transactions between people who had money to loan and people who could never repay those loans and then make more money selling the right to collect on those bad loans to someone else?

They couldn't think that, of course. What they really thought was about the campaign contributions they would get from the people they let do that. And now that it's gone gunny-bag they want us to think that the issue is how we get out of the hole they put us in--not about the hole, how they put us in it and how we stay out of another one it the future.

I wonder who will accept the Lily on behalf the the free market ideologues? Herbert? Is Friend Hoover in the house? If not, call the McCain campaign. They have a couple of guys there who were very helpful in creating this climate of letting predators be predators and the prey be, well, prey. Prey--predators call those people "whiners."

The risk of failure was separated from the people making the transactions. I make money doing this and then sell the situation (known, technically, as a time bomb) to someone else. When the whole system goes down I may have to pay a little bit of what I made back to recover from the catastrophe but not as much as I made creating it. And the people I sold the loans to--and the people I got into the loans--will be right there with me paying more taxes to restore stability. They lost everything and they have to pay to recreate the system while I--who made a bundle on their losing--have to pay a lot less than I made to pay my "fair share" in the recovery.

My end of paying the recovery is smaller than what I made and everyone else--after losing so much, has to pay even more.

Is this a great country or what?

It's called "capitalism" and that's how it works.

Uh-oh. People might start to say I'm engaging in class warfare.

Another good question, this one from Barney Frank: how is it than in our "democracy" one person has the power to decide whether or not to loan $85 billion dollars of tax payer money to an insurance company, and to decided, in his own discretion, what the terms will be?

I don't know that it's a bad idea. But perhaps it's a warning to not let things get this way, again. What's gonna happen if someone finds out of that his brother in law runs the company he decided we should all bail out? (in a way, by the way, his brother in law does--his class brother in law).

And now that I think of it, when Congress gave the power to do that, how much was that like giving George Bush the power to go war if, in his sole discretion, he wanted to do that?

How many times can Congress be talked into giving people so much power? I guess the answer is as many times as they get scared into doing it.

And they were right to be scared, in both circumstances, because both the foreign and financial policies in which we have been engaging for a long time could not help to lead, regardless of short term gain for some of us, to long term disaster for all of us.

You can't be a Quaker and not know that. You can't be a human being with a moral compass--other than making money by exploiting others--and not know that. Which, I guess, explains why so many people don't seem to know it.

It's hard to figure out which of our testimonies is most implicated, here. It's an example of how we can use any one of them to analyze most any human plight. Start with simplicity, head into rest. Choose equality or integrity, community or peace. The lack of (respect for) any of them in our policies (and public morality) is a good way to come to understand the situation.

You cannot have KISS without SPICE.

And just remember, boys and girls, there are those who can with a straight face and a modicum of persuasiveness, tell us that the war in Iraq and the unfettered capitalism are examples of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality.

I will be surprised, frankly, if they don't.

As Lily said: "'s hard to keep up."

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