Saturday, November 15, 2008

Whose Gonna Draw the Line and Where?

The perfect storm of economic factors that brought us to this current state of deep uncertainty is far too complicated for me to decipher. Apparently I am not alone in my confusion. Those who would lead us across this raging Jordan (and, more importantly, should have seen it rising) – Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and a host of other geniuses – seem more confused than I. This is not comforting. It continues to be most unclear exactly what is going on and which crises need the quickest and strongest tourniquets: AIG, GM, Fannie and Freddie, etc.? There are, however, two things that are very clear: $700 billion will not begin to stem the tide and the hard-working citizens of this country will be ridden hard, once again, to pay for the arrogance, disregard and ineptness of that elite group of pirates who sailed us into this dark harbor. (Please note the number of mixed water metaphors so far.) By the end of 2009 the $700 billion figure will surely be surpassed and further funds will be requested and approved by our next congress. Which leads me to the burden-bearers. I’m not going to throw down the standard higher tax argument here. That’s a given. I want to talk about something more sinister. As the ‘generous and kind-hearted geniuses of the left’ ladle out the government soup a very critical question will be: who gets to stand in line and who goes away hungry? To answer this question I’ll focus on the mortgage crisis – a significant contributor to our massive problems. The line at the soup kitchen will be very long. It will include millions of families who bought homes beyond their capacity to purchase - and the bankers who urged them to do so. They are each given whatever they need to make everything okay and, in so doing, bad decisions, debilitating debt and regrettable government policy are all forgiven. The next family in line – the first people behind the government-imposed rope - will be a family who has figured out ways to stay afloat. They have met their obligations by working 3 jobs, using one vehicle, cashing in their child’s college savings, pulling money from their retirement funds, limiting credit card debt, moving to more affordable homes, borrowing money from their parents, cutting back on every ‘luxury’ and finding any conceivable way to keep going. These folks are turned away. No food for them. By government standards they are doing just fine. So they will walk away – not only hungry – but they also have to pay for all the meals that were served in front of them. This is the Democratic Way – this is fairness! So here’s my question: what separates the last family in the first line from the first family in the second line and who is going to make that distinction? Somebody better make a very wise decision about this question or things are not going to go very well in the months to come.


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