The financial collapse is what it is; we're drowning in should-haves right now, plenty of them coming from me, but it happened, and no amount of I-told-you-so is going to undo it. I'm not too thrilled with the federal bail-out, though I think it's probably necessary; just letting the whole thing sort itself out would be an even greater disaster. However, what is vitally – or maybe fatally -- important is that the bail-out not be the only remedy.
We are currently under the thumb of an administration backed by the kind of neoconservative ultra-right demagogues whose extremist economic philosophy in no way precludes the tactic of deliberately doing things to make the federal government worse so that they'll have convincing arguments in favor of essentially dismantling it. Those people are standing on the verge of a major victory. The right-wing authoritarians in the Bush administration would love to give the Secretary of the Treasury the same kind of unchecked power they've given the DHS and the DOJ, and have attempted to give the President and Vice-President; it would be a very, very bad thing to let that happen. But even worse would be to let them stick the federal government with nearly a trillion dollars worth of debt to sponsor the financial bailout, unless it is immediately followed by a massive, comprehensive set of regulatory reforms.
This can't be stressed enough. This collapse didn't happen for no reason: it happened for a very specific and identifiable set of reasons, nearly all of which were made possible by a near total lack of regulation of the financial instruments behind those reasons. If we allow this massive bail-out to take place without any accompanying regulation to make sure it doesn't happen again, we will prove ourselves substantially less intelligent than even the do-nothings who allowed the Great Depression to get as bad as it did. We will be saying to a group of multimillionaires: "Thanks for ruining the economy to your own enrichment. We'll take care of the mess – we trust you not to let it happen again." A wink and a smile isn't going to be good enough this time.
Don't be fooled about what this means for every one of you reading this: you have to pay for this colossal fuck-up. The bail-out – which, honestly, is like a godsend for the Grover Norquist wing of the Republican party – is going to be paid for through your tax dollars. Your kids' college funds, your own plans to buy a house, your savings, your health care, every expense you have is going to jump because of this, and every single thing that you might want the government to do for the next 20 or 30 years, from providing health care to repairing the infrastructure to fighting a war, is going to be impacted negatively by the bailout. It makes us weaker in every way. Only its dire necessity is a mitigating factor, and even that is a total write-off if we don't insist on protective regulation in its wake. That's all there is to it.
This is the kind of crisis that can wreck a nation, and the way we respond to it will literally set the tone for the rest of our lives. This election, already the most grotesque in American memory, could very easily be won by a man who, contrary to his contemptible lies of the last week, has opposed financial regulation his entire career and specifically voted to repeal some of the laws that would have helped prevent, or at least lessen, the collapse. It is absurd to think that he isn't trailing by two dozen points in the polls; if he wins the election, it will be enough to send my own dismally low faith in democracy straight over the falls. There is no conceivable reason to vote for John McCain in the wake of this nonsense; he had no answers before, and now he has less than that. His tax plan, incidentally – which he has shown no interest in rewriting in the wake of the collapse – will reward the very rich by unburdening them their share of the bailout, and do nothing to ease the share borne by the rest of us.
What we are saying, if we say yes to a federal bailout with no subsequent protection through regulation, is this: private citizens who control wealth greater than that of most nations may do so with minimal oversight. Should they fail, those who prospered least from their success will be charged with bailing them out, while those who prospered most from their success will be given a pass. Consequences and responsibilities, for them, will barely exist. And we will continue to elect people who will make sure it stays that way until we're finally building children's castles made of worthless cash, the way they did in Weimar Germany.
Sorry, folks. It was this or dream transcriptions. I'm goin' back to bed.