As an American taxpayer, it is with more than a little suspicion that I view the proposed $700 billion "rescue plan" cobbled together over the weekend by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the so-called Financial Services Roundtable. I find it especially ironic that Wall Street bankers - ostensibly some of the most fervent worshippers at the altar of what I like to call the Cult of the Invisible Hand - turn to the federal government when times get tough.
The assumption by the federal government of the "toxic debt" at the root of the financial meltdown means that every man, woman, and child in the United States - over 300 million of us - is on the hook for over $2300 apiece. Of course, given the fact that those who actually pay federal taxes is much smaller (one estimate places the number of Americans outside of the federal income tax system at 120 million people), the burden on taxpayers will likely be double the above amount.
Of course, ultimately the cost of the bailout will find its way into higher prices, so those lower-income people who dodge the tax bill will just get soaked in other ways.
In essence, the bailout is a form of financial extortion being used against ordinary Americans who pay their bills, save for the future, and have some assets at jeopardy in the event of a global financial implosion. Should the government fail to act, argue the supporters of this financial largess, there will be danger to every retirement account, every dollar of home equity, and every nickel not stuffed in a mattress.
So it is with considerable anger that I write these words: my vitriolic tirade I direct against members of Congress, our President, and the federal agencies that are supposed to be monitoring the financial markets. I have no choice and only a small voice in the resolution of this matter, and once again I have to watch the federal government step in to fix a mess created by wealthy bankers with the complicity of our elected officials.
Yet the federal government can while away and ignore reforms of such items as the national health care system and Social Security for decades. Support for education continues to languish, and good-paying manufacturing jobs disappear to low-wage employees in distant nations at an alarming rate.
The genuflection of the administration and Congress at the feet of the crooked financiers is yet another piece of evidence of how the middle and lower classes in the United States get screwed to line the pockets of the wealthy elites. This is a rigged game, folks, and anyone who believes otherwise is a naïve fool.