Monday, December 29, 2008

Fool Me Twice

There is a very interesting article Joshua Holland posted at AlterNet that suggests that much of the recent financial "crisis" may have been yet another snow job. To wit,
There is something approaching a consensus that the Paulson Plan -- also known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP -- was a boondoggle of an intervention that's flailed from one approach to the next, with little oversight and less effect on the financial meltdown.

But perhaps even more troubling than the ad hoc nature of its implementation is the suspicion that has recently emerged that TARP -- hundreds of billions of dollars worth so far -- was sold to Congress and the public based on a Big Lie.

President George W. Bush, fabulist-in-chief, articulated the rationale for the program in that trademark way of his -- as if addressing a nation of slow-witted 12-year-olds -- on Sept. 24: "Major financial institutions have teetered on the edge of collapse ... [and] began holding onto their money, and lending dried up, and the gears of the American financial system began grinding to a halt." Bush said that if Congress didn't give Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson the trillion dollars (give or take) for which he was asking, the results would be disastrous: "Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession."

For the most part, the press has continued to echo Bush's central assertion that there's a "credit crunch" preventing even qualified borrowers -- that's the key point -- from getting loans, and it's now part of the conventional wisdom.

But a number of economists are questionioning the factual basis of the credit crunch narrative. Columnist David Sirota recently looked at those claims and concluded that Americans "had been punk'd" -- that "the major claims about a credit crisis that justified Congress cutting a trillion-dollar blank check to Wall Street were demonstrably false," and the threat of a systemic banking crash was used by the Bush administration to overcome popular resistance to the "bailout..."
First, if this turns out to be true, it doesn't surprise me at all. I've gotten to the point in which I rarely believe ANYTHING that comes out of the DC beltway. Almost everything they tell us is baked in half-truths anyway and there almost always seems to be some sort of angle involved.

But the thing that really gets me -- and this will make me almost sound like a Bush supporter -- is that I'm getting really tired of the blame falling solely on the current administration. While I agree with many that George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the worst presidents this land has ever known, he's had a tremendous amount of help from both sides of the aisle!

The old adage "Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me" applies in the present situation. Since almost every measure brought before Congress by Team Bush over the past 8 years has not been what it seemed originally, one would think that our elected representatives would cast a more critical eye at what is brought before them. Yet, time and time again, we hear Congress lament, "We didn't know. We didn't know."

This leads me to be believe that a) They DID know and/or b) They're all a big bunch of buffoons! Either way, you and I get to pay for it.

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