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