Throw big business a frickin’ bone, or maybe just $700 billion

Darren D'Altorio

Benjamin Franklin is turning in his grave.

Adam Smith is somewhere in another life, wishing his economic treatise, “The Wealth of Nations,” never saw the light of day.

A high school senior somewhere in the United States dreams of going to college upon graduation. But his or her parents are struggling to make their house payments. Beyond that, one parent just got laid off. Beyond that, they don’t qualify to co-sign for a student loan to help their child go to school. Beyond that, the loan firms don’t have enough capital to issue a loan anyway.

Has “we’re screwed” been said yet?

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the state of our economic system is approaching a “meltdown.” That is close enough to saying screwed. Bernanke even went as far as to say the nation is facing its most serious financial and economic crisis since the end of World War II.

This is the same man who, only months ago, said he has immense faith in our economic system and the future prosperity of our country.

Where is his faith now?

In case you haven’t heard, Bernanke and Paulson are trying to convince Congress to pass a $700 billion “bailout” plan for the mortgage-backed securities market. This is the market that people buy residential properties through. When people want to buy homes, they take out a loan through this mortgage-backed securities market. Some notable names in this market are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG.

Apparently, these companies were very irresponsible with whom they loaned money to. The government had to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And just last week, the Fed dropped $85 billion to “bail out” AIG, the financial firm in financial woes.

These simultaneous actions, paired with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers (a global investment bank that serves the interests of the rich) and the buy-out of investment firm Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, forced banks and Wall Street firms to stop lending money to each other. Essentially, the system went stagnant.

Now, as costs rise for nearly every commodity Americans depend on, people can’t make mortgage payments on their homes. Subsequently, these securities firms are forced to dip into their own pockets to cover the difference.

Well, their pockets are yielding lint, and big-wigs like Paulson and Bernanke are starting to sweat, freak-out and lose their minds.

These government people seem to think money is a limitless resource. The war in Iraq has cost the country trillions of dollars. That large investment was an effort to turn a hopeless dictatorship into a flourishing capitalistic democracy, so the story goes. Now, the government wants to buy up every institution in woe, pumping exorbitant amounts of tax-payer money into speculative solutions.

An expression comes to mind: Throw shit at the wall and see if some sticks. The financial masterminds of our nation have resorted to this timely solution.

Our government is turning inward on itself, giving up, overlooking and abandoning every principle our nation was founded on.

Political scientists and philosophers didn’t spend weeks in hot-ass rooms during August a couple hundred years ago, fighting and writing about the foundations of our country just to have it all dismantled by egomaniacal Washington and Wall Street bastards.

What happened to laissez-faire? What happened to the “invisible hand” in economics? What happened to the trust in our glorious capitalism?

The invisible hand is ushering generations X, Y, Z, U and Me off a cliff of debt. And the trust in capitalism got lost in the great divide where the middle class once existed.

By the time this is published, President George W. Bush may or may not have given a prime-time speech urging Congress to pass the $700 billion bailout bill. Just know, if that bill is passed, it will be the most our government has infiltrated the American economic system in the history of our country.

The Patriot Act was a good punch to the liver. A speculative $700 billion bailout will be the definitive low blow. Even conservative Ky. Sen. Jim Bunning said the bailout is not a solution and is “un-American.”

Why should college students care about all this big business, government policy gobbledygook?

Because the companies being “bailed out” of hard times are headed by people who get rich gambling with the loan payments you will have to make simply to sit wherever you are at this university and learn.

It’s theft, grand larceny at its finest.

Get pissed, people. Start questioning authority. Start acknowledging your voice as a citizen. Before long, there won’t be anything or anyone to bail us out when our generation can’t see the light from the beacon of entitlement called the American Dream.

Darren D’Altorio is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].