Friday, September 26, 2008

Show Me the Money

Frankly, I'm relieved that it looks like congress is growing a backbone and not letting stand the "oh just give me a check for 5% of the GDP to spend as I like with no oversight" concept.

$700 Billion/$300 Million Americans (including all those tax earning babies) is $2333.33 per person. Because, you know, I don't need that money for my own mortgage payment. Actually, that's about a month's worth of housing costs for me - M1, M2 and HOA fee. And since roughly half (I'm guessing) of the country isn't earning taxable money, that means it's 2 months of mortgage payment I'm being asked to allow the government to give to some someones who played fast and loose with.... my mortgage.

This administration is great at waiting uselessly on the sidelines until things spin out of control where they dive into action saying "We MUST do SOMETHING NOW!" As a process engineer, I'm really appalled this method of dealing with things. As a citizen, I see this happening again and want to scream. Isn't this how we got into the Iraq war? No planning, just "let's do SOMETHING NOW" so we look like are solving a problem. It's like putting the wrong guy in jail for murder. Now you've ruined an bystander's life and the murderer is still on the loose. But hey! You have a conviction so the populace is complacent and you get a promotion.

If the crisis is preventable, steps should be taken to curb it when it starts showing up as a major thing. Then, whether it snowballs due to lack of attention or just having some new bug in the works, a smallish, focused team of knowledgeable people need to assess the problem immediately, educate those with the authority to do something, and jointly institute containment. The containment buys time to dig into root cause and see what can be salvaged. Once the root cause is determined, steps should be put into procedures/policy to make the occurrence either impossible or much less likely in the future. And if it's only 'less likely', some detection method must be put in place.

I find it hard to believe that a $700 BILLION blank check is a viable "emergency containment" effort. Saying "we won't let you drown" in public is. But saying how? That requires a little more thought. If we really must throw public money down this rathole, I want some confirmation that it's being spent wisely, for the sole purpose of keeping our currency afloat. On one hand, if this $$ prevents my money from being worth half of what it is today, it might be a good idea. But if it goes to golden parachutes I will be livid. There must be oversight to make sure the money is being used for its intended purpose.

And that means this money had better not be used to fund more CEOs. I think all the top brass (CEOs, VPs, majority shareholders) in all corporations involved should lose their homes, quite frankly. While I'm tempted to toss them onto the street I'll allow that they need to live somewhere. Sell all their existing homes and move them into something that costs half as much as their current primary residences' appraised value, with no vacation homes or city/country homes. They get one per family. Any big toy collections? Get sold. Any and all stock options? Null and void. Any bonuses? Clearly not earned. If a regular person drove their industry into the ground, they'd lose everything. Why not these corporate execs who are losing not just their money, but mine too?


Quark said...

Robert Reich had a good list of requirements he would like to see, such as eliminating all campaign donations and lobbyists by these companies -- if they're getting money from Washington, they shouldn't be spending any of it on political influence in Washington. (Consider calling your representatives and insisting on these provisions.)

Robert Reich also points out that, while all this is going on, American automobile manufacturers are also getting their own bail-out package of sorts, to make fuel efficient cars -- so ... American carmakers know for years that they need to invest in more fuel efficient cars, but instead focus on SUVs the whole time, and now that this isn't paying off, we bail them out to do what they knew they should have been doing? Doesn't the grasshopper get his comeuppance in the Aesop story?

Also, Vincent has a good summary of the crisis and how we should resolve it -- help people with actual mortgages continue to pay for them, but let the untenable derivatives-on-derivatives-on-derivatives market come down like it should (insisting on some sort of registration of all this under-the-radar trading).

Also, I agree with you about too many cooks: Why the hell does McCain need to go to Washington now? With 100 Senators and 435 Representatives, there's enough cooks already in Congress?

Up My Mind said...

Housing industry is planning to ask for a bailout package once session resumes after the elections...

This is definitely not the end of the issue.

I think they can put requirments on where the money goes in the program, as in CEO's get paid a salary up to a certain cap, no parachutes, etc, until the situation is fixed, and government paid back or able to sell the assets it purchases for more than they bought it.

At that point let the market correct/take care of CEO pay & parachutes, etc.

CrankyOtter said...

I saw that list on RR's blog. Well done. I'll cjeck out Vincent's blog too. I haven't heard him ramble in a while.

The car industry thing annoys the bejesus out of me too. I've mentioned more than once how ridiculous it is that in all my car owning years, my 3 cars spanned 20 model years and my rated fuel efficiency has stayed the same. 20 years, I couldn't get a 5mpg bump? Even 35mpg instead of the 31/32 (highway) that mine are rated? And I have to buy non-American cars for that. Of course, I like their space planning, egonomics, features, size, functionality, and safety better than american cars so I don't mind, but still.

Janet Webb said...

Excellent blog Erika ... this Legislation at the end of a rifle REALLY bothers me! I'm so proud of the voices being raised to say Not so fast Guys!