Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another Bush Legacy

So just how f*cked up is America's economy? Well, about ten days ago the Treasury Department took action to take over Fannie May and Freddie Mac. Between the two mortgage giants, trillions of dollars were on the line. The reason for the takeover was that had they been allowed to fail, dozens--if not hundreds--of banks would have been dragged under as well. Even worse, many foreign banks and governments that have investments tied up in American mortgages (yes, China probably owns your house in Poughkeepsie). They would have been effected, too.

Then just this past weekend one of Wall Street's largest investment firms--Lehman Brothers--filed for bankruptcy. This comes just a few months after the government's bailout of Bear Stearns, another Wall Street giant.

And as bad as things are now, they're about to get worse: Merrill Lynch was rescued from the brink of collapse with a buyout from Bank of America. But of more immediate concern is American Insurance Group, the nation's largest insurance provider. Treasury officials are desperately trying to engineer a $75 billion rescue.

As the crisis spreads, stock markets have begun to plunge. Yesterday the Dow Jones dropped 500 points, and overseas markets have begun to fall as well.

Things are getting so bad that the price of oil has dropped to below $100 a barrel. That may sound like good news, but the reason is that investors fear that the entire frakkin' world is about to slip into a major recession. And let's face it: If the oil industry is starting panic about its economic future, what hope is there for the rest of us?

And who's fault is this mess? For the last eight years George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress have fostered an increasingly relaxed regulatory atmosphere. The thinking was that if you just let big business do its thing, everything will come up roses. With less oversight of accounting practices and such, many financial companies were able to create a giant pyramid scheme by investing in one another. On the other hand, thanks to relaxed environmental rules and increased CO2 emissions, the roses are doing just fine. Too bad none of us can afford to send flowers anymore.

Yet despite this impending financial fiasco, almost half the American electorate appears prepared to reward the Republican party with another four years in the White House.

If there's one thing we've now learned, businesses don't always act in their best interest. They're selfish bastards who only worry about the short term bottom line. Like any spoiled five year old, they need strict guidelines enforced by an occasional spanking.

Now you would think that the leading presidential candidates would be addressing this crisis. It would seem reasonable to have them offering well-reasoned intelligent economic solutions of some sort. And who knows? Perhaps if we lived on the planet Zorkon, that's exactly what our potential future leaders would be doing.

But unfortunately America is located on Earth. And instead of engaging in an intelligent debate on how to avoid a further financial meltdown, the candidates are arguing about whether Obama intentionally compared Sarah Palin to a pig wearing lipstick.

Quite frankly, if Obama and McCain had any damn sense, they would drop out of the race now. Regardless of who wins in November, between Iraq, Afghanistan, and the economy, the new President will be inheriting the biggest pile of steaming crap since Franklin Roosevelt in 1932.

0 thoughtful ramblings: