One of the most amazing things about our current situation is the utter unwillingness of anyone in a position of political, business, or economic authority to take any responsibility for the smoking crater that used to be a thriving economy. If you listen to the Republicans, it's the liberal-tax-and-spend-dopesmoking-treehugging Democrats who are 100% responsible for the whole mess; if you listen to the Democrats, it's the greedy, heartless, warmongering, hug-Wall Street-screw-Main Street Republicans who all on their own dragged us over the fiscal event horizon into the biggest economic black hole since 1929.
Where I come from, we call this a self-serving crock of caca.
My friend Jake, who always knows which buttons to push to send me into a towering blograge, yesterday sent me a link to an article on Bloomberg.com, with the comment that it was "Bloomberg's take on when and how the stock market meltdown became inevitable." I don't have the link here at home (it didn't carry over when I forwarded our e-mail exchange to my home account), but I'll post it later when I get to the office so you can read the full article. In the meantime, here is the text of the broadside I launched in response...
It would be considerably easier for a thinking person to accept this blatantly biased screed if the author had spent a bit more time on context and analysis and a bit less on partisan spite.
For instance, consider the sentence, "But we now know that many of the senators who protected Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Christopher Dodd, have received mind-boggling levels of financial support from them over the years." I very seriously doubt that only these three high-profile Democrats received largesse from Fannie and Freddie over the years...and yet no lesser Democrats, and certainly no Republicans, are mentioned. I would be absolutely amazed if there were no Republican feeders at the trough as well. In fairness, had this article been written by a Democrat, I'm sure the reverse would have been true...Republicans castigated, but no Democrats.
The article also takes a fairly superficial look at the history. Referring to the Fannie and Freddie reform bill (not specified by name or number), the article claims that "...the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee, signaling that this would be a partisan issue. Republicans, tied in knots by the tight Democratic opposition, couldn't even get the Senate to vote on the matter." This might be easier to swallow if there were some context. Why did the craven Democrats oppose it? What efforts were made by the righteous and incorruptible Republicans to identify the Democrats' problems and negotiate a mutually agreeable solution? We are gathering the harvest of the I'm-right-screw-you style of politics that makes Independents like me sick.
This ridiculous balderdash continues: "That such a reckless political stand could have been taken by the Democrats was obscene even then. Wallison wrote at the time: 'It is a classic case of socializing the risk while privatizing the profit. The Democrats and the few Republicans who oppose portfolio limitations could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing.''' Here we have one group accusing another of an "obscene" and "reckless" stand, and the bald statement that those opposing a particular issue "...could not possibly do so if their constituents understood what they were doing." How many in Congress understood what Fannie and Freddie were doing? Where were the leaders of either party who took the time and effort to explain to their constituents what was at stake, why, and why their proposed way ahead was better...instead of just demonizing the other side of the aisle? The level of arrogant stupidity and avoidance of responsibility here is beyond belief.
Articles like this are a horrendous disservice to the public. They offer nothing but finger pointing and self-righteous accusation while avoiding any hint of responsibility for the mess that both parties have created by rolling over for the monied interests who own Congress.
And don't bring up Greenspan, either. If he had spent more time speaking in clear English so that everyone from "Main Street to Wall Street" could have understood, he might have done us some good. Instead, he spent years making an opaque mess even more opaque.
We're being asked to put up hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the bastards whose greed has brought us to this point, and we're being told it has to be done because they're "too big to fail." We, of course, are too small to matter.
I'm not interested in hearing anything that says everything is the fault of either the Democrats or the Republicans. They've both been asleep at the switch. Stop all this ******** about how either the Liberals or the Conservatives are the devil incarnate."
Here's another wonderful example of lack of responsibility and leadership, and the prevelance of the greed and hypocrisy that brought us to this point. In describing Congress's efforts to construct a "rescue plan" to salvage something from the crisis, the article says that "financial institutions are weighing in with what they want in the bill...the Financial Services Roundtable - a lobbying group representing the nation's banks - called on Congress to make the plan 'broad enough to include different types of assets' (the emphasis is mine)."
Did you understand that? The financial wizards who dreamed up all the "assets" that turned out to be worthless are now demanding that Congress protect them from the fruits of their greed. If you aren't disgusted, you're not quite awake yet.
I could go on, but here's the bottom line of my rant: there's no leadership. No one is standing tall and saying that he/she really screwed up and is working hard to help fix the problem. No one - especially any of the reinforced armies of MBAs who dreamed up all the fiscal shenanigans that brought us to this mess - is accepting any responsibility...they're all sitting at the trough, whining that someone needs to save them from this debacle that's someone else's fault.
There's no leadership. No one is standing up and explaining exactly what happened, why it happened, who was responsible, and what needs to be done to fix the disaster. President Roosevelt would have had a Fireside Chat to explain it all in terms a farmer or factory worker could understand. President Bush just fires salvos of sound bites that blame the Democrats.
At a time when we need real, inspiring, confidence-building leadership, we have a bunch of finger-pointing, responsibility-avoiding fools who have not only presided over the wreckage of the present, but see no problem with sticking you and I, our children, our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren with the bill.
Think about that when you cast your vote in November.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
P.S. - on a happier note, the new season of Dancing with the Stars started last night, and was most entertaining. Models Brooke Burke and Kim Kardashian, and Olympic gold medal beach volleyball player Misty Mae-Traenor seem to be possible standouts among the ladies; while champion sprinter Maurice Green and Super Bowl hero Warren Sapp did a surprisingly good job for the men. The best part, though, was the performance of 82-year-0ld Cloris Leachman during her receipt of the judges' comments...by my count, she was bleeped out at least four times, not to mention shamelessly vamping at all the judges.
It'll be an interesting season...