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economic justice | government

Raise your voice against bailout for millionaires

Yes, our economy is in a disastrous tailspin. Yes, something should probably be done about it. But NOT THIS.

Government officials are asking you and me, regular people who pay our taxes and who have NOT been making millions by speculating in the real estate market all this time, to bail out the banking industry and the fat cats who have been living off our backs. Let me explain why this is wrong, and then let me tell you something you can do about it.
Most of us have, at most, only one house. The one we live in. But for years now, some very rich people have been buying up houses for profit. This has caused housing costs to soar to the point where many of us could no longer afford to buy our own homes, because their greedy speculating drove up housing prices. Meanwhile, they got richer and richer and richer. In other words, they have been taking more than they need, at other peoples' expense, for selfish gain.

Now, the housing bubble has burst. Many ordinary people who were not jet-setting their way through the market have been caught up in this. Many people are losing their homes. When it became apparent that thousands of ordinary citizens were about to face foreclosure, NO ONE BAILED ANY OF THEM OUT. To do so would have sparked the squawking cries of "socialism!" "No government entitlements!" from conservative corners.

Let me tell you about my next door neighbor. He is a carpenter who worked and paid his taxes all his life. He lived in the same house, a small, turn-of-the-last-century bungalow, for 25 years. A few years ago, he was injured and could not work for more than a year. During that time, bills began to pile up. No one was there to bail him out. Every last one of the social programs that might have helped him get by had been savagely cut by "free" marketeers, who say they do not believe in "welfare." So my neighbor was having a very difficult time getting enough to eat. In desperation, he went to the bank. Given the ruthless conditions of the market, they were only too happy to give him a second mortgage, even if they suspected he could not pay it off. Why? Because they figured, if he couldn't pay, they would take his house, and with real estate so high, they would make a profit.

My neighbor is not a very sophisticated man. Good-hearted and trusting, he took what was offered to him. He used the money to pay off back bills, to buy food, and to buy a new couch. A lot of it went for medical bills, as he had not had any health insurance when he was injured. And then, when it became clear that finding work again at the age of 56 was going to be much more difficult than he had thought, he began to use the money to make payments -- with interest -- on the mortgage. He spent two years like this, searching for work and not finding it, using the mortgage money to pay off the mortgage. Through it all, he kept expecting things to get better. He kept flying his sad little American flag out in front of his home, smiling, and telling me he was sure he'd find work today. He never did.

About a year ago, the bank foreclosed on him. They took his house.

He lives in a camp trailer by the river now. He says he's happy. But the ordeal was very painful for him, and for our entire community.

No one bailed out my neighbor. There were no programs available to help him.

And now, our government wants to use our tax dollars, money that could not be accessed to help our neighbors as they lost their homes, to... what? To bail out the very same corporations that drove up housing costs and foreclosed on our neighbors homes.

My neighbor had dutifully paid his taxes all these years, and yet there was no pot of money to soften his fall. I guess he wasn't big enough to be "too big to fail." The bankers and the CEOs have NOT paid their taxes. They have used loopholes and corporate leverage and offshore accounts to protect their own assets all this time. They have made millions of dollars speculating and driving up housing costs and taking other peoples' homes. They deserve to bear the costs of their own folly. I say they are "too big to bail." I say, if my money is going to be used to bail anyone out of anything, let it be used to bail out you, and me, and my neighbor from the consequences of this economic meltdown -- a meltdown created by the extremely rich in their fervor to become even richer.

I say NO MONEY to the banks. No money to any more corporate troughs. These, after all, are the very people who have been screaming against any "welfare" all this time. These are the people who claim regulation is not needed, the people who scream against paying any taxes, the people who say that socialism is evil. And now, what they are asking (indeed, what they are always asking) is to be allowed to privatize all their gains, and socialize all their losses. This is wrong. Their fat mouths have been feeding off the rest of us long enough. Let us not help them stay solvent while they pay each other million dollar salaries and multi-million dollar golden parachutes.

If this economy must be saved, then save it from the bottom up. Save your neighbor's home, feed your sisters and brothers, and let the millionaires find honest jobs for a change. NO CORPORATE BAILOUT.

Now, here's something you can do to start. Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith both expressed initial support for the idea of a bailout, "even if it's not perfect." (Not perfect? Indeed.) But both are now starting to backpedal at least a little bit. Both are furiously taking comments right now on this very issue. PLEASE call, write, fax, and email them. Tell them NO BAILOUT. Contact all of your representatives. Here's the contact info for Wyden and for Smith:

Ron Wyden

Washington, DC
223 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3703
Phone: (202) 224-5244
Fax: (202) 228-2717

Gordon Smith (local and DC offices)

Washington, DC Office
404 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202.224.3753
Fax: 202.228.3997

Portland, OR Office
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon Street, Suite 1250
Portland, OR 97204
Phone: 503.326.3386
Fax: 503.326.2900

NO BAILOUT 23.Sep.2008 16:26


If my tax money is going to be used to bail anyone out, it should be the people who are losing their homes. NOT the banks that are foreclosing on them.

If they want a bailout bill, then MAKE IT ILLEGAL FOR BANKS TO TAKE PEOPLES' HOMES.

tired of the same game 23.Sep.2008 16:30

Ecotopian Yeti

Ok so this is the typical Democrat thing. "Help help call your senator and congressperson".

Look boys and girls. Most government people will bow down eventually. Eventually Wyden will support what looks like a "nicer version" or find some excuse to vote for this. A Real Democracy should say "empower yourself" and to do this we need numbers and the best way is not to demonstrate in downtown Stumptown or Salem. The best thing is to seize the media! Literally march in on the live news and demand that the people give their voice and this should be done in NUMBERS! It is way overdue for a Storming of the Bastille.

if there was a Storming of the Bastille of the press 23.Sep.2008 16:59

Ecotopian Yeti

If there was a Storming of the Bastille of the press I would suggest of course one could also read articles of impeachment with that and if it was a drawn out seizing of a TV station or radio station then interview with the common person who has suffered from this fascism and class war. But a short seizure of the media should have a well written article and grievances with the system.

Viva la Cascadia!

Yeah, I agree 23.Sep.2008 17:46

shy V.

I appreciate the fire behind this article, but it's a waste of time to court the (s)elected
officials. This does not work, time is running. I say: GENERAL STRIKE. GENERAL NO WORK NO BUY DAYS. It will scare the system it will give us our power back. We can start small and get better as we go along. But no one believes me.

Yeah, I agree 23.Sep.2008 17:47

shy V.

I appreciate the fire behind this article, but it's a waste of time to court the (s)elected
officials. This does not work, time is running. I say: GENERAL STRIKE. GENERAL NO WORK NO BUY DAYS. It will scare the system it will give us our power back. We can start small and get better as we go along. But no one believes me.

Yeah, I agree 23.Sep.2008 17:47

shy V.

I appreciate the fire behind this article, but it's a waste of time to court the (s)elected
officials. This does not work, time is running. I say: GENERAL STRIKE. GENERAL NO WORK NO BUY DAYS. It will scare the system it will give us our power back. We can start small and get better as we go along. But no one believes me.

Might be "a waste of time," but it's something 23.Sep.2008 18:19

more active than ist

It cracks me up that people commenting are complaining that calling congress is a waste of time, meanwhile... who is organizing that general strike???

If you're one person (and you are), DO something. Start with a simple phone call, and THEN, by all means, dream of the general strike.

I'm certainly down with a general strike, by the way. I'll participate. And if you want to organize a huge march (not that this is much more effective than a phone call, in my opinion), I'll join that too. And in the meantime, I'm calling congress.

It really bothers me when people dis one tactic while sitting on their asses, and that's really what you all are doing. Knowing this, I suggest you at least make that call. Because it could make a difference. And it will certainly make a bigger difference than doing nothing. Yes, of course, duh, a revolution would be much, much better. But in case you haven't noticed, the "activists" around here haven't really come through on that yet, have they? Probably because no tactic is just right. Well, Goldilocks, I'll try whatever tactic is at my disposal, even just a lowly phone call.

Revolution 24.Sep.2008 15:07


Time for this one again


Too important to call congress? 24.Sep.2008 17:18


Perhaps Ectopian Yeti and Shy V missed a crucial point here: It is congress who is currently debating whether or not to foist this unconscionable bailout bill on us. Maybe making a few phone calls isn't all glamorous and hip, but wouldn't it be easier to stop this thing *before* it starts sucking money out of our pockets and handing it over to CEOs? If a phone call or a letter would work, why not try it?

Sure, a radical analysis of the problem is necessary here. Our economic system is predatory and dangerous, and should be dealt with in ways small and large. Certainly, we need to do much more than just address this one issue, through phone calls. No one said otherwise.

But at this moment, one thing you can actually DO, is to call congress to try to stop this before it goes forward. Why not do it? Why not use the tactic at your disposal? Why pretend to be too good to make a call, when any tactic that works should be considered?

I think it's valid to be concerned with not allowing yourself to be co-opted into believing that making these calls, and even stopping this bailout, would be enough. Of course you can, and should, do more. But that almost goes without saying, doesn't it? Why be averse to using the tools available to you? Why be averse to doing something that might actually help? That just seems absurd to me.