Francois-Marie Arouet was better known by his pen name, Voltaire. A defender of personal, political, and religious freedom in 18th century France, this deep thinking man whose ideas helped influence the American and French Revolutions once opined that "Common sense is not so common." Thus we arrive at America’s current financial crisis.
Let us consider some hard facts:
• The U.S. national debt stood at $9.7 trillion as of Sept. 24, 2008.
• Each citizen "owes" roughly $32,133 towards this debt.
• The debt has been increasing by $2.17 billion per day since Sept. 2007.
• As of April 2008, 25 percent of our debt is owed to foreign powers; $592.2 billion to the Land of the Rising Sun and another $502 billion to Red China.
Despite these facts, President Bush and the alleged economic geniuses running the country suggest that We, the People dish out another $700 billion to rescue banks from bad debt. Earlier this month the government chose to gamble away tens of billions of taxpayer dollars by acquiring potentially bad mortgages vis-à-vis the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All of this comes after the misguided plan to reward the irresponsibility of those who signed up for adjustable rate mortgages without ever assuming those rates may eventually be adjusted.
The moral of the story is that Voltaire was right and Bush is wrong. Common sense, which is sorely lacking in the Bush White House, would suggest that rewarding irresponsibility, piling on to the national debt, and spending $700 billion in a risky bailout scheme is a desperate political move that is unbecoming of a nation which fancies itself as the leader of the free world.
United States Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) correctly identified the situation when he stated on Sept. 23 that "This massive bail-out is not the solution, it is financial socialism, it is un-American." The very financial gurus who lacked the ability to see this meltdown coming are encouraging Congress to rush to a decision, pass an expensive bail-out plan, and get the job done quickly.
The reason for this is clear: by acting quickly, Congress will act so hastily that the only winners will be the fat cats on Wall Street and the government powerbrokers who see the opportunity to consolidate their authority at the expense of hardworking Americans who do not fit into either of the above categories.
The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Bush Administration are touting a proposal that will authorize Secretary Paulson to "purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States."
This plan, if passed, will grant an unelected bureaucrat the ability to purchase mortgages from any financial institution in America at his own discretion. It goes on to read that "The Secretary is authorized to take such action as the Secretary deems necessary," and permits him to alone appoint employees to carry out his authority, enter into contracts at his discretion, designate banking institutions as agents of the government, and to "issue such regulations" as he sees "necessary and appropriate."
Even more frightening is Section 8, titled "Review," which states that "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."
The result of all this is that the U.S. Treasury Secretary will be granted total and complete supremacy over all decisions in this arena. There can be no review by the courts or other agencies. There will be no oversight. The Secretary’s decisions are "non-reviewable" and he has total judgment without having to answer to anyone.
An example of the federal government telling Americans that Congressional action was required hurriedly and without deliberation was in 2001. The culmination of such lack of consideration occurred on the fateful day of Oct. 26, 2001 when President Bush signed the Patriot Act, passed by a Congress rushed to action for the purpose of expanding the Executive Branch’s control over the public. More recently, they played the same tune before they rushed into a war that will cost us between $1.2 and $1.7 trillion by 2017, according to Professor Joseph Stiglitz.
Governing properly is not like speed dating. It is appropriately deliberating over the facts, obeying the Constitution, and doing right by the American people.
The new proposal to bail out the greediest among us at the expense of those who will foot the bill for the growing $9.7 trillion national debt is insulting. More dangerously, its intent is to further subjugate the citizens of this nation by placing total power in the hands of a man who is accountable to not one voter. Perhaps the right word is tyranny.
After all, "Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them," or so says Voltaire, a man who also knew a thing or two about common sense.
Nathan Shrader can be reached at [email protected]