Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Truth and/or Consequences

In any crucial moment of crisis, there are always reasonable debates to be held on what policies to pursue. But there is also an even more legitimate discussion required on who should be the one to pursue them.

This latter discussion has been too absent from the rhetoric on the Iraq war, and now a similar blind spot is appearing with respect to the Wall Street debacle. Instead of parsing the relative merits of the ‘surge’ and its dubious claim to success, we should be concentrating on who is responsible for the world-historic calamity created by the Iraq conquest in the first place. No one involved in starting that fire should be anywhere near the effort to put it out. They have simply forfeited any claim to common sense and competence.

Similarly, the spectacle of Henry (Hanky Panky) Paulson bringing the ‘solution’ to Capitol Hill in the form of a blank check of $700 billion with zero oversight over how he spends it would be laughable if it were not so likely to succeed. But aside from the particulars of this astonishing power/money grab, WHO THE FUCK IS PAULSON TO BE ASKING FOR IT?

One can reserve judgment on Bernancke’s role at the Fed as he inherited the mess and hasn’t been on the job that long. But Paulson and his bosses at the White House should be run out of town on a rail. Everyone responsible for this shameful looting of our financial system should be told to get out of the way and let an adult take over.


Meanwhile, financier wizard Warren Buffet points the way to what the U.S. government should be doing. Buffet, who does not confuse his business and charitable operations, bought a $5 billion stake in Goldman Sachs and becomes part owner of same. He plans to make money on that deal, and the Treasury could do the same instead of handing out billion-dollar bills.


Absolutely every piece of evidence of how the bail-out is playing on Main Street suggests that the potential for a populist uprising against anyone associated with it—including one B. Obama—is huge. Careful.


What if the whole panic turns out to be a false alarm? There is a tiny little precedent called weapons of mass destruction we could be recalling. The Bushites used that to grab huge new powers; now we have a ‘financial collapse’ just around the corner, which justifies turning over the constitutional power of the purse to an appointed Treasury secretary. Does this stink?

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