Boobus Americanus (Thank God!) Says Boo on Bailout Plans!

After watching more news coverage and talking head yakking and pols weighing in, I'm convinced that virtually no one in a position to actually vote on the bailout of "markets" has much knowledge of what they're talking about. It reminds me of an exchange from an episode of Seinfeld in which Kramer urges Jerry to lie about his stereo being broken, with the insight that the company can "just write off" the loss:

Jerry: "You don't even know what a write-off is."
Kramer: "Do you?"
Jerry: "No, I don't."
Kramer: "Well they do. And they're the ones who are writing it off."

Thankfully, the American public is looking askance at various arguments emanating like so much swamp gas from politicians that we've gotta do something in the next 24-48-72 hours or that goddamn Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland will swallow up everything faster than Warren Buffet chowing on Goldman Sachs.

"Americans reluctant to fund bailout, poll finds," reports The Los Angeles Times. "Reluctance to use public money to rescue private firms runs across the population, the poll found: Democrats and Republicans, high-income and low-income families alike."

"Voters are split on the $1 trillion question, but most have little confidence Congress can fix financial crisis," says news from pollster John Zogby, who further notes that

nearly two out of three likely voters in this survey said they blame government entities, led by the White House, for causing this problem. Asked who is most to blame, 27% said the Bush administration, while 20% blamed Congress. By contrast, just 12% blamed investment banks—which will benefit most from this proposed bailout—and 17% blamed mortgage brokers.

Further, just 38% of likely voters have confidence that leaders in Washington will be able to solve this crisis, while 58% said they have little or no confidence in these leaders.

And as reason's Matt Welch blogs below, in that little slice of cheesey heaven called Wisconsin, at least a dozen Badger State denizens are agin' it, too.

Hopefully, elite opinion about the bailout, which Brian Doherty has observed is every bit as driven by irrational animal spirits as two tribesfolks fucking for rain in the desert, will catch up to the skepticism being demonstrated by what H.L. Mencken derided as boobus americanus.

We'll be covering the bailout out the yin-yang (to use another Seinfeld reference), especially the idea that, whatever does end up happening, it doesn't have to happen before tomorrow night's presidential debate (if, sadly, there is still one). Or before the Mets' total collapse before the end of the baseball season. Or AMC airs the next all-new episode of Mad Men. Or before Sarah Palin meets with the leader of Freedonia. Or whatever. If we're talking about restructuring the next couple of decades worth of financial rules, the discussion probably ought to take as long as, I don't know, all the good conversation that went into passage of The PATRIOT Act or something.

As Radley Balko notes below, this particular administration, so rich in political capital just a few thousand years ago, should have no credibility with anyone, least of all when its top dogs are barking for faith and trust when it comes to wielding massive powers.

And we should recognize that when it comes to consolidating regulatory power over financial markets, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been singing the same tune for more than a little while, even as the administration did squat about well-known problems at Fannie Mae. And pushed useless new regulation such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

So when you hear folks such as New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer (who once proposed regulating the breakfast-cereal industry, fer chrissakes) say that his colleagues are fired up by the "the importance of getting something done" or Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus say "There's a realization that we have to do something and that we can't leave town until we do," don't believe them. Believe the American people instead. At least just this once.

Because we're the ones—along with our kids, and our kids' kids, and whatever cyborg offspring roam the broken-down corridors of Spaceship Earth humming Zager & Evans' tunes in the year 2525—who will be writing it off. Or, perhaps more precisely, are in the process of being written down. And then off.

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  • ||

    "Hello fellow American. This you should vote me. I leave power good. Thank you. Thank you. If you vote me I'm hot. What? Taxes they'll be lower son. The democratic vote for me is right thing to do Philadelphia. So do."

  • SJE||

    If the GOP had nominated a libertarian, he would be screaming ahead in the polls.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Not bad Epi. But this sums it up better.

    "We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph!"

  • KT||

    We're not talking rocket science here, we're talking about taking taxpayers' money and giving it to someone else. It's possible to be quite a boob and still be against this.

  • ||

    I've been sitting here watching CNBC for the past hour, and virtually every single person is saying we have to prevent the market (BOOGA-BOOGA!!1) from doing what is necessary (i.e., allowing true price discovery) to alleviate the current problem. And they all seem to think a sudden aversion on the part of lenders to flinging money at every half-baked business plan that comes across their desks is bad.

    Half-baked plans to throw a trillion government dollars at banks, however, is the best thing ever!

    I want to dive through the TeeVee screen and stab several of them in the eye with my mechanical pencil.

  • James Taggart||

    At a time like this, we can't afford the luxury of thinking!"

  • ||

    I want to dive through the TeeVee screen and stab several of them in the eye with my mechanical pencil.

    Sadako!

  • SJE||

    This had me ROTFL

    "I'm a strong believer in free enterprise. So my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course"

    Does our POTUS even know what he is talking about? He has been on the corporatist bandwagon since he came into office....and before..

  • JP||

    Serious question: I hate SOX as much as the next thinking person, but did this administration really "push" it?

  • Abdul||

    I understand and respect the libertarian principles surrounding opposition to the bailout, but I wonder if this isn't a bit like the old Onion joke about the Libertarian reluctantly calling the fire department to save his burning house.

    If all the major investment banks fail, businesses won't get the capital they need to grow and people will get laid off. It's hard to predict exactly how many people because these circumstances are unusual. There's a case to be made for government intervention if it forestalls double digit unemployment rates.

  • Naga Sadow||

    P Brooks,

    I sympathize. Those damn CNBC anchors don't understand that a 400,000 dollar home that no one wants to buy isn't a 400,000 home. I was over in Navarre, FL a few days ago and despite the huge number of "for sale" signs, no one was trying to dump a condo for less than they paid. Just stupid.

  • ||

    I'm against the $85,000,000,000.00 bailout of AIG.

    > > Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in
    > > a We Deserve It Dividend.
    > > To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000
    > > bonafide adults in the U.S.
    > > Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman
    > > and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..
    > > So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals
    $425,000.00.
    > > My plan is to give $425,000 to every person 18+ as a
    > > We Deserve It Dividend.
    > > Of course, it would NOT be tax free.
    > > So let's assume a tax rate of 30%.
    > > Every individual 18+ has to pay $127,500.00 in taxes.
    > > That sends $25,500,000,000 right back to Uncle Sam.
    > > But it means that every adult 18+ has $297,500.00 in their pocket.
    > > A husband and wife has $595,000.00.
    > > What would you do with $297,500.00 to $595,000.00 in your family?
    > > Pay off your mortgage housing crisis solved.
    > > Repay college loans what a great boost to new grads
    > > Put away money for college it'll be there
    > > Save in a bank create money to loan to entrepreneurs.
    > > Buy a new car create jobs
    > > Invest in the market capital drives growth
    > > Pay for your parent's medical insurance health care improves
    > > Enable Deadbeat Dads to come clean or else
    > > Remember this is for every adult U S Citizen 18+ including the folks
    > > who lost their jobs at Lehman Brothers and every other company
    > > that is cutting back. And of course, for those serving in our Armed
    Forces.
    > > If we're going to re-distribute wealth let's
    > really do it...instead of trickling out
    > > a puny $1000.00 ( "vote buy" ) economic incentive.
    > > If we're going to do an $85 billion bailout,
    > let's bail out every adult U S Citizen 18+!
    > > As for AIG liquidate it.
    > > Sell off its parts.
    > > Let American General go back to being American General.
    > > Sell off the real estate.
    > > Let the private sector bargain hunters cut it up and clean it up.
    > > Here's my rationale. We deserve it and AIG doesn't.
    > > Sure it's a crazy idea that can "never work."
    > > But can you imagine the Coast-To-Coast Block Party!
    > > How do you spell Economic Boom?
    > > I trust my fellow adult Americans to know how to use the $85 Billion
    > We Deserve It Dividend more than I do the
    > geniuses at AIG or in Washington DC.
    > > And remember, The Birk plan only really costs
    > $59.5 Billion because $25.5 Billion is returned
    > > instantly in taxes to Uncle Sam.

  • ||

    I was over in Navarre, FL a few days ago and despite the huge number of "for sale" signs, no one was trying to dump a condo for less than they paid. Just stupid

    I was in Daytona Beach over the summer and the number of beach condos with "for sale" on them was mind-blowing. I tried to get my grandfather to buy me one at fire sale price but his only response was "fuck you".

  • Brandybuck||

    I don't normally watch television, but I'm travelling this week, and have the boobus tube on in the hotel room. Gaaaargh! I haven't seen so many stupidity paraded in front of a camera since the last Mr. Bean marathon. I am truly appalled by the idiots running the government, as well as the idiots in media commenting on the idiots running the government. I feel like I've had a lobotomy after watching the news.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Sage,

    You would totally devalue the money in my pocket. However, I work in a casino so a large portion of my lost wealth would be returned.

    "Freakin' sweet!"

  • Naga Sadow||

    Epi,

    Wait till December and if you have a credit score of better than 700 you can finance one at 4%. Assuming of course than the Collider doesn't suck your property up.

  • ||

    I have perfect credit, Naga. But I'm not laying out any capital right now.

  • Naga Sadow||

    YOU FOOL, EPI!!! Think like Joe Kennedy!

  • ||

    Yes, Abdul. Or the libertarians who actually told Liberty Magazine poll that they would let go and plummet to their death if hanging from a flagpole upon the owner's request, rather than trespass.

  • Amakudari||

    > > Instead, I'm in favor of giving $85,000,000,000 to America in
    > > a We Deserve It Dividend.
    > > To make the math simple, let's assume there are 200,000,000
    > > bonafide adults in the U.S.
    > > Our population is about 301,000,000 +/- counting every man, woman
    > > and child. So 200,000,000 might be a fair stab at adults 18 and up..
    > > So divide 200 million adults 18+ into $85 billon that equals
    $425,000.00.


    Uh, it equals $425 per person. Or are we giving an $85 trillion rebate? I guess spam's not getting any smarter during these trying times.

  • ||

    Think like Joe Kennedy!

    You want me to disapprove of Peter Lawford hanging out with the black help at the country club?

  • robc||

    Abdul,

    There's a case to be made for government intervention if it forestalls double digit unemployment rates.

    No there isnt.

  • Naga Sadow||

    I was thinking more of getting rock bottom prices and a lot of insurance. Then burn the place down for the insurance. I'm unfamiliar with your comment sir!

  • robc||

    creech,

    I would trespass and accept the punishment.

  • robc||

    creech,

    I have that article of Liberty somewhere. I should dig it out. Was that from the same survey that showed that 1/3 of Liberty subscribers were morally opposed to voting?

  • ||

    I'm unfamiliar with your comment sir!

    Lawford worked the grounds at Kennedy's country club when he was trying to break into the movies. Kennedy saw him hanging out with the black workers on a break and said something to the effect of "I don't know why a handsome young man like that is associating with those darkies."

  • Naga Sadow||

    I'm not familiar with the inner workings of the clan Kennedy. I have, however, looked into Joe Kennedy's. Quite possibly one of the greatest con men of the last century.

  • miche||

    This will soon blow way up and we'll get yet another fearmongering speech and then the public will roll over.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,579880,00.html

    http://www.reuters.com/article/companyNewsAndPR/idUSPEK16693720080925

  • ||

    Uh, it wasn't my idea. Honest!

  • ||

    Florida ain't the only place houses aren't turning. All those vacation homes around the lakes in Northern Minnesota that are for sale aren't being reduced to bargain basement prices. It's in the best interests of the taxing authorities to maintain some artificial price to keep the bucks rolling in, to pay salaries for all the strap hangars at the local guvmint levels, otherwise we'd really rack up some high unemployment figures.

  • ||

    I'm not familiar with the inner workings of the clan Kennedy

    Neither am I. I am, however, with the Rat Pack.

  • Naga Sadow ||

    Episiarch,

    The only opening I see for you is if you gouge out one of your eyes. Though you do drink and do coke enough.

  • ||

    This whole thing really is about proping prices up, isn't it? It's amazing how little fallout you see here in the long-economically-depressed part of the northeast, yet we will similarly be expected to pay for it.

  • ||

    I want every talking head, elected or appointed official, news analyst and panicky economist who supports this giant unmitigated fleecing to demonstrate their economic prescience by laying out their warnings and predictions from earlier than 2004.

    Since they are all so goddam sure they know what the fuck to do they can at least demonstrate that they knew it was coming a mere four years before the "OMG! economic meltdown crisis". If you can't do that, shut the fuck up. You obviously have no credibility opining what this massive intervention will do four years down the line. Other than add a terabuck to federal obligations.

    A trillion here, a trillion there, and before you know it, you're talking about real money.

    Primum non nocere.

  • robc||

    J sub D,

    I want every talking head, elected or appointed official, news analyst and panicky economist who supports this giant unmitigated fleecing to demonstrate their economic prescience by laying out their warnings and predictions from earlier than 2004.


    The only one I know who got it right was Ron Paul. And, of course, he doesnt fall into the "supports" category.

  • ||

    I've been thinking about the LHC. Now that we've caught a break and it won't be fully operational until a number of months from now, why don't we take the $700 billion and build our own black hole maker while we have the chance? We can't allow a black hole gap to emerge.

    I have yet to see a really good analysis of what would happen if we did nothing or, at least, didn't pony up anything in the hundreds of billions of dollars. My gut feeling is that we are likely to face a deep recession as a result, but would it be an extended one? Can't we just endure economic downturns once in a while?

  • thoreau||

    Who wrote this blog post? It reads like Tim Cavanaugh.

  • Dagny T.||

    "Hello fellow American. This you should vote me. I leave power good. Thank you. Thank you. If you vote me I'm hot. What? Taxes they'll be lower son. The democratic vote for me is right thing to do Philadelphia. So do."

    (You've been waiting a long time to use that quote, haven't you? Patience has paid off.)

    "I think you have a learning disorder, bro."

  • ||

    You've been waiting a long time to use that quote, haven't you? Patience has paid off

    Yes. Yes it has. But I have another completely insane one (not Always Sunny)that requires extremely specific circumstances to use. I hope I get the chance.

  • JMR||

    Ron Paul was, as a few of us said at the time, the ONLY Republican with a chance to win given the shaky state of the economy, which has now become obvious to everyone.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    How are you at black hole making? Did you take Black Hole Thermodynamics in college?

  • Dagny T.||

    I hope I get the chance.

    I hope you do, too. Unless those extremely specific circumstances involve all of us getting fucked in new and terrifying ways? ...Oh, what the hell. At least we'll have something to entertain us.

  • ||

    Unless those extremely specific circumstances involve all of us getting fucked in new and terrifying ways?

    Nah, it would most likely be a Ron Bailey post. Here's hoping (crosses fingers).

  • ||

    "$85,000,000,000? I could parley that into a fortune!"

  • ||

    I take it you have video or written commentary by Dr. Paul predicting the mortgage markets would collapse in precisely this fashion? No, you don't. Ron Paul did not predict this. He predicted a different type of economic disaster -- runaway inflation -- the same prediction he's been making for 30 years, and it hasn't happened.

    So yes, he was right in that he was predicting something really bad would happen. So did the toothless bum outside my office door who fights other bums over dumpster rights, but I'm not going to make him President.

  • ||

    I have yet to see a really good analysis of what would happen if we did nothing or, at least, didn't pony up anything in the hundreds of billions of dollars.


    "Vulture Capitalists" would make piles of money buying up loan portfolios for pennies on the dollar, pulling the worthless junk out, and selling the remaining loans at a handsome profit.

    Bankers might re-learn the lesson that not everybody who walks into their office with his hand out should get a loan.

    Need I continue?

  • Mike Laursen||

    If all the major investment banks fail, businesses won't get the capital they need to grow and people will get laid off. It's hard to predict exactly how many people because these circumstances are unusual. There's a case to be made for government intervention if it forestalls double digit unemployment rates.

    I don't know about that. First of all what do we mean by "fail". I imagine that some would file bankruptcy, either selling of all of their assets or entering a court-administered business plan. Some would be bought up.

    If people are at risk of being laid off because of a recession, how is massively increasing the national debt going to help? If consumer banks are at risk of runs, the Federal government would have to infuse a bunch of money to back the FDIC, but that's different than just offering up $700 billion with unclear goals.

  • thoreau||

    Sorry, PL, can't help you on black holes.

    Ask me about beating the diffraction limit, though.

  • ||

    Zager and Evans? Haven't we suffered enough?

  • Kolohe||

    I tried to get my grandfather to buy me one at fire sale price but his only response was "fuck you".

    To be fair to your grandpa, you have that effect on a lot people.

  • ||

    thoreau, you're nothing to me now. You're not a physicist, you're not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do. I don't want to see you at the blogs, I don't want you near my house. When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance, so I won't be there. You understand?

  • zoltan||

    How is the only person who opposes the bailout, war, major spending increases, and all sorts of government muckity muck easily comparable to a bum?

  • Derrick||

    I am truly appalled by [...] the idiots in media commenting on the idiots running the government. I feel like I've had a lobotomy after watching the news.

    OK, I've got the solution, folks.

    What we need is our own cable news network. Really, how hard can it be to start one of these?

    It could start out by looping 30-minute segments throughout the day (like CNN Headline News) or it could go straight to being a full-on CNN-like channel.

    At a minimum you'd need some DV cams, a couple producers, a basic studio, a small news staff, a small advertising staff, and someone to go out and secure distribution on various cable networks.

    All it takes is for someone to put together a business plan for this. (I'd do it myself if I wasn't already running a business.) If investors don't bite, reach out to individual libertarians on the web to fund it, Ron-Paul-moneybomb-style.

    Remember, you heard it here first.

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