"Turn out the lights, the party's over" was the title of an old Willie Nelson song and it may be a fitting metaphor for the current state of the American economy. I don’t know about you, but it always amazes me how much the right rail against government interference and regulating until it’s their bank, security firm, or corporation that’s the one who needs to be bailed out.
One minute it’s all about market forces and free enterprise, if the argument is about giving some poor sap unemployment compensation, for example. But it’s totally prudent when some billionaire needs a few billion more to bail them out like we’re seeing with this week’s Bear Stearns Securities collapse. Unfortunately the problem goes much deeper than bailing out Wall Street or Bears and Stern. That ain't going to do it in the long run.
Meanwhile we can all sleep well knowing President Elmer Fudd is running the show. Bush appeared yesterday and used some analogy about not over correcting because you, “can drive the bus into the ditch if you do”. Well Elmer, we’re already in the freaking ditch for Christ’s sake. While millions of Americans are losing their jobs and homes President Fudd sees it as par for the course if you’re a slob who happens to be a member of the middle class. The economy “obviously is going through a tough time'' Elmer uttered to a room full of nervous bankers in New York last week.
What a total failure this man is as a president. The question is what are you going to do about it Elmer?
Soon Elmer and his buddies will be leaving us but not before they’ve have completely gutted the treasury and left us the mountain of debt, given themselves huge tax breaks, continued their 1940s style energy policies and saddled us with a endless money pit immoral war in Iraq.
All the while the Chinese and the oil rich Middle Eastern nations continue to underwrite this national debt making themselves richer and more powerful while potentially holding the nation’s fate hostage should they wish to demand payment. And for sure they will leave us an economic system that guarantees that the remaining wealth of the nation in distributed and kept in the hands of an elite few at the top of the income ladder. Fuck the poor middle class, we got ours they'll chuckle as they head back to Crawford, Texas and Wyoming when they should, if there were true justice, be headed to jail.
The housing bubble has burst. We are in a recession caused by the billions and billions of dollars of bad debts the banks now owe on mortgages made to people who probably should of never had them. These so called “predatory mortgages” have become unaffordable to the home buyers who were granted them by these unscrupulous lenders and their sleazy "quick buck" middlemen. Now that the adjustable balloon payments have come due, the widespread resulting foreclosures have caused the housing markets to deflate throughout the country and left the lenders holding untold billions of worthless paper. The real problem being the lack of regulation by the government of these easy money lenders before these loans were even made.
But that horse is out of the barn an a long way down the road and still running.
Meanwhile the American middle class frenzy of spending and running up debt using the equity value available from the inflated worth of their homes has dry up. Their homes have begun to come down in value, or reflect their actual value. Leaving many homeowners owing more debt then the value of their home will cover. No more middle class-buying spree. No more economic boom. No more demand for goods and services, no more borrowing due to tighter credit markets caused by debt-ridden lenders with no end in sight, production slowdowns and factory closings because of less demand, job loses and layoffs, loss of medical insurance, pensions, and the resulting recession or worse the "D" word to come.
The only possible relief is that the middle class must be given more buying power so that we can begin consuming again like the shallow materialistic whores we are. Just kidding. This time hopefully we'll consume spiritually, environmentally conscious and wisely, I promise. Tax rebates are simply not going to be enough. Americans will probably never see the home equity based spending sprees available again because of the abuses of credit that helped get us into the economic mess we are in now.
How do you do that you ask?
First we end the American participation in the war in Iraq and it's trillions of dollars in wasteful government spending. Then we begin creating higher wage jobs while also creating a more balance economic with a more equitable division of the nation’s wealth among the middle and lower classes. Much of this done by reforming the tax system. Higher minimum wages with built in cost of living protection.
Stronger labor laws that actually punish employers who interfere with workers right to organize so that workers can take economic action to increase their share of the pot, and their buying power, through collective bargaining. Tax laws that give a break to the workers in the middle and lower classes, not the rich. Creating union wage jobs in a new widespread green economy while at the same time freeing us from the use of fossil fuels, and a massive rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure that can create thousands of jobs. Creating jobs that clean up and enhance our environment. Creating jobs in the arts. Better schools to prepare the future work force. Helping with college tuition fees to create a new class of creative thinkers and innovators who will create the economies of the future.