Republicans speak two ways on government…

October 16, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Something that has always irritated me is that Republicans are against government intervention or support until they need it for themselves. I’ve witnessed this fact ever since I was old enough to understand current events (and that was pretty early thanks to mom and dad).

Of course the biggest example of that is the recently enacted business bailouts (at least $1 trillion, I believe). To be sure, there was some resistance to them on both the GOP and Democratic side, but as the stock market crashed even constituents who had just e-mailed their congressmen to stop the bailouts e-mailed back, bring them on to save us!

And you couldn’t be more blatantly hypocritical than Republican presidential candidate John McCain Wednesday night calling for the cutting of taxes and even an across the board spending freeze (and why doesn’t the media play that spending freeze up?) and then on the other side of his mouth implying that his administration would go to bat for “special needs” children and that his running mate Sarah Palin is an expert on that because she has a “special needs” child (she recently gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome). Palin herself was the first to suggest that under a McCain/Palin ticket special needs children would get help. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems counter to the calls for self-reliance (government is not the answer, they say) and no tax hikes or even tax reductions. But it is as I say a common trait among so-called conservative pull yourself up by your own bootstraps types to be the first in line when they need help.

And that “my friends”, as McCain would phrase it, is why I could never buy the Republican line (and I’m talking about Republicans of the last three or four decades, post-Eisenhower).

And then there is Joe the Plumber. I have worked with his type and worked for one of his type. I respect their initiative if they actually do what they say. For almost a decade I worked for a trucking company, the owner of which started out by driving his own truck.  I met an old truck driver one time at a coffee shop out on the road. He said he worked with him when they were younger. “He always bragged that he was going to run his own company one day – we just laughed at him,” the old boy told me. Well, he admitted, “he did it.” I don’t know the whole story and can’t guarantee the accuracy of it, but it went something like this: instead of buying a truck from his employer, he rented one from his father-in-law and expanded from there (if true, he knew better than to get caught up in that lease to own trap, although he subsequently used it on others). I admire his initiative and savvy.

Then there are the types who remain employees but spout off about how they don’t believe in big government and anything that gets in the way of business, but meanwhile they take advantage of every social program they are “entitled to,” unemployment benefits, disability, Social Security, OSHA safety standards, etc.

And while I have never been a union person (save for a few months and didn’t go to meetings), I find it a little hypocritical to rail against unions when I know that in my final trucking job, in which I was well paid (not the one run by the entrepreneur), while I was working for a non-union terminal, I knew that the reason we were so well paid was that there was pressure from other union terminals. The company did what it had to do to keep us happy, hoping that we would not vote the union in. And they did keep us happy, and I appreciate them for that. But I also appreciate the fact that the union was there in the background.

(But I am not pro-union because unions are often corrupt and I have witnessed the difference between union and non-union operations. In non-union operations people keep busy. In union operations people often watch the clock and refuse to do work they claim is not part of their job. The pace is often slower. However, that said, unions can protect their members and if they run their own internal quality control, and realize that the health of their employer is necessary to maintain their jobs, it would seem unions could work. And I did not mean to get off on a tangent on unions. But I have to say one more thing. The word is – don’t know if it is accurate – that an Obama administration would support the move by unions to institute the so-called card check method nationwide. This means unions can force themselves on an employer if they can persuade or intimidate enough workers to sign union cards. I believe a secret ballot is better. No one should be intimidated to sign up for a union or not sign up for a union).

The ugly hot button subject of abortion came up in the final debate. McCain unintentionally I think wound up cruelly insulting women by using that silly popular gesture nowadays of air quotes when he referred to “the health of the mother”. He claimed the phrase has been stretched to justify any abortion. I understood his point (although I don’t know if it is accurate), but his mocking and disgust ridden tone did not serve him well. Obama danced around the super delicate subject.

Both men say they are against abortion personally (of course being men they would never have to have one), but Obama supports a woman’s right to have one. McCain said he feels the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, which ensures that right, was wrong. I think McCain claims he would not interfere with the right, nonetheless, although I think he has been equivocal on that position – kind of depends upon the audience to whom he is speaking.

My personal position on this most uncomfortable subject is this: abortion is something that is the business of the patient (always a woman, of course) and her doctor. The concept that the state (the government) cannot or should not intrude on one’s right to deal with or control their own body seems to me intrinsic. And now after all of these years, after writing that last sentence, I think I finally understand the Roe vs. Wade language where the opinion stated that while there is no actual wording in the Constitution (and its Bill of Rights) that gives a woman a right to privacy (thus a right to abortion), the right is contained in a “penumbra” of the Constitution. Put in my own English, if one does not have a right to control her or his own body, what right could one have?

I should stop while I am ahead, but I have to go on. It is true that we do have laws against taking life. So there is a conflict here. Then there is the question of: when does life begin? The easy answer is: at conception (I don’t know, but I would guess that an historical check would show that in times past, life in a legal context was always assumed to be the state of being once out of the womb and into the outside world). So we come full circle. A woman choosing to do something with her own body, but something that will result in the ending of a life. Ah, if things were simple we would not need written laws and judges. But I maintain we have to have a right to our own bodies and if we believe in a higher power, then we may reach out to the power for guidance and if we don’t follow a higher power, then we have to reach within ourselves. But again, if an individual, and in this case we really are talking about a woman, does not have a right to control her own body, that is so basic, how can you say a person has a right to anything?

And now, if you have read many of my other blogs, you will note that I am repetitious in the next thing I have to say:

If you go by their words (fact checks aside), the stark difference between Barack Obama and John McCain is that Obama is for an activist government that backs up and supports its citizens and McCain claims to be for one that calls on more sacrifice and self-reliance from the citizenry, albeit he has exceptions, such as for Palin’s family needs and others so situated, and talks about helping folks out there who are hurting (how?).

If the economic situation was not so dire, McCain would win, I have no doubt. But the U.S. and the world is facing what appears to be the biggest economic challenge ever. The only way most folks can see out of this (and they know it’s no guarantee) is to change horses, or should I say, replace the Republican elephant with the Democratic mule.

Obama wins, McCain scores in debate…

October 16, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

John McCain got his best line off when he told Barack Obama that he was not George Bush and that if Obama wanted to run against Bush he should have run four years ago.

While I have to give the nod to Obama as the winner in this final debate, I have to think McCain may have picked up a few undecideds.

However, I think with all the wild gyrations of the stock market and the predictions that we might be going into a severe recession that could last for years or even another Great Depression and all the financial uncertainty in the world, Obama as the Democrat has to have the advantage.

McCain himself brought up the fact that the electorate faces two distinct philosophies. I don’t recall exactly how he phrased it, but I think I am correct in saying that basically McCain’s philosophy is for more public self-reliance and lower taxes with minimal support from government, although McCain seems to promote some social issues, and Obama’s philosophy is that government has to step in and help people, especially in light of the fact it seems to be able to step in and help Wall Street to the tune of billions of dollars (trillions?). Both support the bailouts.

But just commenting on the performance of the two, they seemed evenly matched for the most part, but Obama scores almost every time with his calm, cool, and collected responses and delivery.

McCain is more tightly wound.

I think Obama was almost on the ropes at one point under McCain’s aggressive approach, but he quickly recovered by collecting his thoughts and then calmly explaining his positions.

And like I always note, it is hard to know who is right when one says his program would do this and cost this or not cost this or that he voted this way, not that way and the other disputes it (you have to read the analysis the next day).

But something specific McCain repeated from his last debate is that he would implement an across the board freeze on government spending (exactly how that would work I don’t know and surly something would have to be spent).

Before Obama could respond, McCain said he knew Obama would accuse him of taking a hatchet approach instead of using a scalpel, but then added that he, McCain, could do both.

Sure enough, Obama countered that McCain was taking a hatchet approach, adding that while some things need to be cut, some things require more funding.

But I will give points to McCain here because he unlike Obama at least gave an answer to the question of how he would cut spending, even if not a complete answer, although McCain did again mention there is waste in the defense budget.

McCain was the most animated when he pressed Obama on his connections to 60s/70s radical terrorist William Ayers and also when he accused the Obama Campaign of wrongly and unfairly accusing the McCain campaign of engaging in George Wallace-like racist rhetoric. He also accused the Obama campaign with complicity in alleged voter registration fraud, which Obama denied.

Obama coolly explained away his Ayers connection, noting that he, Obama, was only eight years old when Ayers was doing his terrorist thing and that since then Ayers has become accepted by both Democrats and Republicans and that he only served with him on non-profit agencies. Ayers has given some political support to Obama.

While I think many would buy McCain’s governmental philosophy and accept his qualities as a long-time lawmaker and war hero, in these tough times a lot of people know they may have to look to their own government for some support and that they need someone at the top whose main interest is with them and not just the business sector.

McCain claims he would not raise anyone’s – not anyone’s! – taxes. Obama says if you make under $250,000 per year you will not see a tax increase.

How McCain thinks he can fund the government, pay for the corporate bailouts, pay down the national debt, and do some of the social programs that even he supports without increased taxes, I don’t know. I didn’t hear.

McCain also led off with something about Joe the Plumber, a guy who wants to go into business for himself, but who he claims Obama blew off by saying we have to spread the wealth.

Obama did not answer that directly, but he indicated he had nothing against Joe the Plumber and that most small businesses in the nation or a large percentage of them do not make $250,000 per year.

So, I guess if we want to support Joe the Plumber we are obligated to vote for McCain, or so he wants you to think.

I’m neutral of Joe the Plumber, but somehow I think Obama may represent my interests more than McCain.

And remember, if something should happen to the elderly McCain we get Sarah Palin.

If that alone doesn’t give you pause, I give up.

In summary, McCain did well, fought hard, made some points. Obama seemed more in line with what the vast majority of Americans need.

P.s. I’ll probably blog more tomorrow on all of this.

Candidates’ last chance; cold $ reality…

October 15, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

For all intents and purposes it’s the last chance for Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama to make their respective cases to the electorate as a whole, and it’s less than three hours from now as I write this.

I sure hope tonight’s debate will be more exciting than the last two presidential ones and even the vice presidential one. I’m watching primarily for the entertainment. Wild horses could not make me vote for John McCain and especially not the extremely shrill and extremely under qualified Sarah Palin. Will I vote for Barack Obama? Probably. I already have my absentee ballot, but have not marked it yet. Voting third party is useless, but then again, voting in California is somewhat useless too, since it is a foregone conclusion who will get the winner-take-all electoral votes (but if everyone thought that way…).

But I’ll tune in at 6 p.m. Pacific time and plan to blog as soon as it is over. Don’t think I’ll take notes this time. It gets in the way of really seeing the thing. I even missed Sarah’s wink, on the live shot, a few weeks ago.

Seriously, no matter what I think of the two candidates, I would hope they put some oomph into this thing, layout their agenda and make someone want to vote for them and feel good about it. I think the format always gets in the way, but too late to do anything about that.

If McCain is itching to say something about Obama’s William Ayers connection, for goodness sakes do it. Look right at Obama and say it to his face. In fact, I think McCain owes it to everyone to do so since he and his campaign have made so much of it through ads and political stump speeches.

And Obama should answer the charge straight on, truthfully without nuance or equivocation, and be done with it and move on to what people really want to hear.

As for the “tax and spend charge” Republicans always level at the Democrats , I wished Obama would just say in essence, all administrations, Republican or Democrat, in fact, all governments, tax and spend, it’s just how they tax and how much they spend and on what and whom.

And Mr. McCain, if you can actually cut government spending, please tell us how. Your hero Ronald Reagan didn’t do it, although in the popular neo-conservative lore he is depicted as doing so.

Even though I won’t vote for McCain I could see him winning the debate if he concentrated on his own programs (if he has any) and stressed his experience in government and his handle on military matters (although being a pilot and getting shot down over enemy territory and being a POW and surviving torture may show bravery, it does not make him Napoleon Bonaparte).

Also, “winning” a presidential debate is subjective and does not historically always equate with winning the election. However, McCain has spent too much time preaching to his choir. He needs to convince undecideds. If he could grab enough of them, that combined with the possible Bradley effect (Whites who won’t vote for a Black, but will not divulge such to pollsters) and a no-show by newly registered, but not dedicated, voters, might give McCain a shot (election hankly panky could be a factor too, but that could go either way).

…….The other day I thought that maybe since Wall Street had successfully extorted some $1 trillion or so out of the American taxpayers it was satisfied, hence the big jump in the stock market on Monday, after the big loss on the previous Friday. Maybe in the cold light of reality traders saw that there are government strings attached to the “rescue” package – the Wall Street Journal reports today that bankers were basically given a take it or leave it option, no negotiation – and that new earnings reports show we are in or are going into a deep recession, turning optimism into doom (also these wide swings, I suppose, just mean the speculators are at their game). One cold reality is that the stock market is a gamblers game. Unfortunately some years ago it was decided that we all should play that game with our retirement funds.

Please read my post-debate blog coming out soon on a computer screen near you.

The socialization of America; a war loss…

October 14, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

I think our economy is fundamentally unsound and what we are doing now, the bailouts and what amounts to a partial nationalization or socialization of the economy by our government, will only act as a band-aid or a pill that at best will temporarily mask the symptoms of what ails us.

Admittedly I know little of economics, but like most of us, it has been so much in the news these past several weeks and in so much detail, I feel like after all these years I really do understand some of the fundamentals.

Before I go any further, I would suggest reading a piece by Harvard lecturer and economist and Libertarian Jeffrey Miron, now posted on CNN While I have never thoroughly bought into libertarianism, I think that they seem to be the only true conservatives (and they are liberal on social issues, although not government involvement in social issues).

Back to my thoughts: I will wander here, as I sometimes do. But last night while I was trying to read a novel, I had the TV on low and caught a portion of some finance commentators from Britain, I believe. They read an e-mail from someone who complained about the bailouts and also noted that he began his career as a gofer for some financial firm in 1969 at $129 (American) per week. “Now these guys come out of college and think they should start at $200,000 per year.”

Wandering still: I note that Barack Obama has the political guts or maybe savvy to concede in his stump speech that although a lot of our problems are caused by greed and malfeasance on Wall Street, there is also blame to those on Main Street, so to speak, who knew they were getting in over their heads and did it anyway. I think he is being honest there and is also trying to appeal to the centrists, much as I believe Bill Clinton often did. I recall that at one time during his presidency Clinton was referred to as a centrist or maybe even a slightly conservative or “new” Democrat.

Whatever, he supposedly balanced the budget and left office with a surplus. Actually I think that is a lot of accounting trickery that both the major parties engage in, such as when they propose new spending, then cut that proposed new spending slightly and claim they have reduced government spending. This charade is aided and abetted by the news media, which in some cases does not understand what is going on and in others just settles for it because to do otherwise takes too many paragraphs of explanation.

All that aside, Clinton was aided by a robust economy, the Dot Com bubble, as I recall, was a big part of it. But under Clinton the federal budget was balanced (in governmentspeak anyway) and Welfare reform was enacted, something you would have expected Republicans to do.

Bush came into office promising to keep taxes low (especially for folks who could most afford to pay them in the first place) and to loosen government control on free enterprise. He now prepares to leave office while presiding over the biggest socialization of government since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (maybe bigger).

It seems that a lot of the laissez faire free enterprise folks, to include George W., don’t have the courage of their convictions. To be sure, this bailout and nationalization stuff has caused a split in the GOP, which will in part to be blamed for John McCain losing the election, as he at this time seems destined to do. I still think he could win if the stock market were to stay up and gasoline prices kept falling, and if there were to be some attack on the nation or if as I read in another blog that the Bush Administration is able to announce that Osama Bin Laden has been caught. Now this does not make sense. But the voting record of the American electorate is often driven by fear and emotion. This time around it does seem,though, that folks – the Palin contingent aside – seem to be looking at things more thoughtfully and more people are taking part.

What I meant to say in this blog and did not get around to, is that our economy is fundamentally unsound because we (as a nation) have spent too much time consuming and not enough time making. When we get back to the making, which we are quite capable of doing, conditions will improve greatly, I feel. When we get back to investing in our own nation and not industry elsewhere and not in nation building in the Middle East, things will turn around.

Still wandering, but I fear that all of this government infusion into the economy is going to lead to wild inflation. I just heard an economic pundit on TV say that he thinks we are in danger of going into something worse than the Great Depression. We’ll have high unemployment but unlike the Great Depression, we’ll also have inflation.

Wouldn’t it have been better to let the investment banks and other banks fail and be replaced by new bankers who would operate like the bankers of old, prudently?

And finally, I want to jump to the subject of war. In all of this economic upheaval we have forgotten about the wars we are fighting.

Unlike Vietnam (something a couple of generations now have no memory of), there is no draft and the numbers of casualties and troops involved are much smaller (but no less important). But people are dying and being gravely wounded and none of us really know what for, beyond the jingoistic phrases of “fighting terror” or “fighting for freedom”, that have no thought behind them.

I want to mention this because I was thinking about a boyhood acquaintance that dates back to first through fifth grade. He had a stutter, and beyond that I can only describe him as the typical all-American boy. He probably did not do well in school (I don’t know. Our family moved after fifth grade). I recall going over to his house and a bunch of us kids playing on the slip and slide he had just got. I often think back to those kids because it was a time when we were all so happy, free and easy, with no responsibilities (at least I didn’t have any).

I had just got through entertaining my youngest daughter with my memories of that kid who stuttered (not about his stutter, just the fun) and went back into the house to go on the computer. Quite by chance I ran across his name. He died as a Marine in Vietnam from enemy fire.

None of us knew what that war was all about either, except something about fighting for the cause of freedom, and yet no one was freed, except from life on earth.

Conservatives create their own monster…

October 11, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Intellectual conservatives may finally be realizing that they created a monster when they let the conservative movement be taken over by the anti-intellectuals.

Christopher Buckley, the son of the late William F. Buckley Jr., has endorsed Barack Obama, dropping the support he once gave to John McCain. He says McCain is not the man he used to be, that the campaign has changed him and that he is now snarly and mean spirited and worse yet, he chose the decidedly unintellectual Sarah Palin to be his running mate.

I don’t know much about this Buckley. He describes himself as a Libertarian, according to the Washington Post. But his father was certainly the epitome of intellectual conservatism.

It seems that the intellectual conservatives who have not come out against McCain are not saying anything good about him and are decidedly upset over Palin.

And here’s something to really be scared about for everyone. It seems that in making personal attacks against Obama, McCain and Palin have whipped the reactionary element in society into such a frenzy that they may have created a monster. Folks are hinting at or outright threatening violence toward Obama. It is plain to see that it isn’t only politics it’s race. And apparently not just anti-black. One woman at a rally said she was against Obama because she heard he was a an Arab (maybe like the black Othello in Shakespeare, described as a the Moor). I saw a man trembling at a McCain rally and angrily saying that the “socialists (and he might has well have said Bolsheviks) … are taking over …” Another man angrily expressed dismay and disbelief that Obama could be ahead in the race. Apparently he thought the Republican by law has to win. And there has been anger directed at the “media”. I would not attempt to argue whether the “media” is always as objective as it should be, but I will say this. I think a lot of folks, especially reactionary conservatives, think that the role of journalists is to be a cheerleader for whomever or whatever issue they, the listening or reading public, are supporting at the time. But using that point of view, then I guess if I was a farmer and I needed to know whether a storm might be brewing that could ruin my harvest, I would only listen to the weatherman who predicted good weather. But back to my story. The same McCain who questioned Obama’s character now tries to calm the crowd conceding that Obama is worthy to be president, but adding that he, McCain, is the better choice, but McCain’s own crowds boo him for this (I’m not sure who they dislike more, their own candidate or Obama).

I might be off base a little, but I see a connection with what happened in Nazi Germany. Hitler, not an educated man himself, whipped up the masses with super nationalism coupled with prejudice against the Jews and the idea of race superiority. The wealthy and intellectuals went along with him – after all he gave an outlet for the anger of the hungry masses and he was not communist – even though they had contempt for Hitler.

Today’s conservative intelligentsia have read their history or some of the older ones have lived through it, and they don’t want to see that happen again.

Not only do they not like the tone their conservative movement has taken, more than that they are worried about their money. Even though conservatives are supposed to be good with money – prudent investors, free market, low taxes and all – they’re worried about what is happening to their own fortunes, or at least their 401(k)s, under the non-intellectual conservative George W. Bush.

They see a decidedly more educated man and much more thoughtful person in Obama than the present occupant of the White House.

Personally, while I think Obama without a doubt looks to be the better pick and that Palin is out of the question, I am not one hundred percent sold on Obama. But what choice is there?

There is fear in the land and there is resentment in the land. People realize that Wall Street can and will take everyone down with them. And some accuse the public itself of culpability by living beyond its means via credit. Strangely, after 9/11 the public wasn’t urged to sacrifice in the so-called war on terror, no rationing was imposed, it wasn’t urged to grow victory gardens, no, the commander in chief himself, “W”, urged everyone to “go shopping.”

Today, facing possibly the biggest economic crisis in our history or even in the world’s history, we no longer have so much money to go shopping, especially food shopping, and a victory garden would come in handy right now.

Freeze spending, reduce mortgage payments…

October 8, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

The big news to me out of the so-called debate in Nashville Tuesday night was that John McCain might call for an across the board spending freeze if the financial crisis warranted, and that he also announced a sketchy proposal for buying up home loans and renegotiating them at their diminished value. He claimed it was his own personal idea’ with the indication that this would be separate from the just-passed $700 billion bailout bill.

On the other hand, although he vowed to give health care equal priority to other pressing problems, he made it clear he does not believe in government involvement in health care. So, I don’t know what he really means there. Well, actually I do know. He means status quo. If you can afford it, you get it, if not you don’t, unless you have zero dollars and then you might get in on an existing government program (although McCain apparently does not believe in such programs). McCain proposes a tax credit for health care and then wants to tax employer health plans (that is Obama’s version of what McCain offers. McCain does not clearly explain the tax part).

Fact checking aside, it was what I would consider a tie but it is clear that Barack Obama sees government as an agent for people in general, while McCain, well I’m not sure what he thinks government’s obligation is, except perhaps to fight war. He does call for energy independence and other programs, but does not want to raise taxes (taxes seem kind of necessary to fund things) and calls for the mostly unspecified cuts in spending. He did mention that there is waste in the defense budget that he would cut (he has said that before).

The instant polls indicate that Obama won the debate. I saw it more as a tie, but thought most of the time Obama expressed more direct concern for individuals. McCain’s direct mortgage rescue might be an exception.

As far as foreign policy, I felt it was a wash. I just don’t see a major difference, except that McCain is a little more insistent that some sort of victory (something he does not define) be attained in Iraq. Since we occupied the country, I am not sure what more we can do, except keep occupying it and hope that the violence subsides over time or turn it over as soon as possible to the Iraqis. Both want to press on in Afghanistan.

The candidates were asked at least twice what the $700 Billion Wall Street bailout does for the people (as opposed to Wall Street investment bankers). Neither one of them answered. At least I did not catch an answer (the transcript will be available soon on the web, I’m sure).

Tom Brokaw asked each candidate to prioritize their actions on health, energy, and entitlement reform to include Social Security. Obama said he would call for a 10-year program to gain energy independence just as JFK initiated the moon landing program, which was accomplished in less than a decade. He ranked health care as number two and then listed education (not on the questioner’s list, I thought).

McCain said he’d do everything at once. But he also suggested that Social Security would have to be cut (and if I got that incorrect, I’ll admit in after I read the transcript, but that is what he seemed to say. He may have been suggesting that unless something is done, the fund will run out). Later he said that he felt the Social Security funding problem could be resolved via bi-partisan study and negotiation as done during the Reagan administration. He said a special commission would probably be needed to resolve the medicare funding issue, which he called “tougher.”

I was impressed that McCain claimed that he was concerned for the environment and said that he has disagreed with the Bush administration on the issue (and I think he might find he disagrees with his vice presidential candidate too).

McCain supports nuclear power.

I did not hear Obama say he supports nuclear. He does call for increased efforts on alternative energy, using the moon-shot approach, as I already mentioned.

And really what more useful can I say. You have to have watched the debate and/or read the transcript on the web.

McCain as usual tried to portray Obama as too inexperienced in foreign affairs and military matters, but Obama stood his ground and demonstrated that he is up on the issues.

There were no major breakthrough proposals or answers concerning how to solve the nation’s financial crisis.

P.s. In my last blog I rewrote the lead and said that I would not vote for anyone who would not give a specific answer. Well both candidates fudged a little. I may have to go back on that – don’t know.

Easy credit makes things cost more…

October 3, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Those who control the nation’s credit markets rule. When you sign that note of credit you have signed a deal with the devil.

The world of high finance loaned money to people who could not pay back and then loaned more money based on notes with people who could not pay back and so on and so on and it worked for a long time. When the bubble finally burst and the paper was shown to be worthless, the high finance people told us all you either bail us out or we are taking you down with us. There was some resistance. But the high finance people were better at poker, natural-born gamblers that they are. They called the bluff of the resisters to the $700 billion Wall Street bailout by refusing to lend money. In turn Wall Street stocks went into the tank (even though they did go up and down after that). But that one-day drop and the fact you can’t even get a car loan was enough to make the resisters fold their hands.

So now we have the bailout. If it works, well I guess that is good enough. We go back to status quo and go on with our lives. If it does not, what then?

It seems that the Democrat Barack Obama could well win the presidency over the economic mess. He will probably be forced into applying even more government involvement into the economy, strangely enough something started by a Republican president.

If this all brings more caution into the credit markets, maybe this is a good thing (with the bailout I am not sure that it will). In my non-economic mind, I have always thought easy credit makes things cost more.

Tight credit should bring higher interest rates and more savings. If those who sell things know that people can’t just charge it, they might be forced to bring prices more in line with what people can afford.