The People Have Spoken, and Washington Ignored Us
by Christina Callicott
Sep 30, 2008 | 2405 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print

As The Ouray County Watch goes to press, Washington is poised to move forward with the Wall Street bailout that topped headlines and radio talk shows all last week and over the weekend. Even the skeptical Republicans have largely been bought over, or at least their leadership has. Problem is, the American public is wholesale against the bargain.

This is a classic example of representative democracy, where legislators and administrators are making a decision that they think is best based on whatever elite information they have access to that we don’t. The opposite would be direct democracy, where they vote based simply on the expressed feelings of their constituency.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to believe that congress has some kind of financial stake in the issue and don’t want to lose their own pensions in a market crash, even while working class Americans are losing their homes, their health care plans and their jobs by the fistful. I mean, the Democrats are siding with the Bush administration while the bulk of Republicans have provided the resistance? What’s up with that?

For one thing, I think they know that if they win the presidential election, they don’t want an even greater catastrophe on their hands than they already have. Let’s keep at least one thing status quo, they’re thinking, even if it’s a financial system that victimizes the poor and depends on the exploitation of banana republics and the ongoing development of cheap energy and even cheaper labor, legal or illegal, to prop it up.

Republicans, on the other hand, know that the crisis is the result of deregulation, and they believe enough in their own ideology to see it through to its natural conclusion. They’re bolstered by the fact that JP Morgan just bought failing institution Bear Stearns, which, however, probably won’t be great for the American people either.

But the American people have had it and are saying so loudly, clearly and with one voice: Don’t buy the lie. We’re fed up with the argument that there is a wolf at the door. Wasn’t it Henry Paulson of the Treasury Department who just a week and a half ago assured us everything was OK? What changed? I know, I know, the money market exchange rate dropped below a dollar and triggered the panic, but you mean to tell me these geniuses in banking didn’t see any of this coming?

And where were these $700 billion when my baby sister, only 23 at the time, had her house foreclosed on after her Columbian husband was deported on the spot at his final citizenship hearing? At the time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tightening up their rolls as a result of the war on terror. As if deporting some post-adolescent Columbian kid who has been here, legally we thought, since he was too young to write, is really going to stop Osama Bin Laden? When was the last time we heard that guy’s name, anyway? Oh that’s right, we gave him a hall pass because his family is friends with the Bushes.

I have to wonder if Congress really knows how much money $700 billion really is. It’s more than we’ve spent so far on the Iraq war, which in itself has nearly bankrupted the country. That total is now up to $583,748,451,800 and growing so fast I can’t keep up with the changing numbers on the online Iraq war cost counter.

But the worst part of this story to me are the claims that this is the biggest power grab by the Administrative branch of the government in the history of the United States, that it’s “the financial equivalent of the Patriot Act,” which stripped Americans of many of those rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution. Congress fell for that one hook, line and sinker too, shaking in their shoes at the sound of the wolf’s claws clicking on the marble floor just outside the halls of congress. If only they’d opened the door and seen that it was only Bush out there making noises to scare them, maybe we’d still live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now it’s more like the land of the homeless. And the only ones who are free are the criminals on Wall Street who profited the most and who are going to walk away with “limited executive compensation” that still amounts to more than the rest of us have probably ever seen, even in a few lifetimes combined.
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