Bailouts, the Constitution and the Role of Government

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

Recently Cramer was attached by Jon Stewart. The attacks were anything but complimentary but what Stewart failed to understand when he claimed that Wall Street knew "this" panic was going to happen was his own duplicity in the crisis to begin with.

It is incredibly ironic that Obama and Stewart, who apparently deplore free markets, used the free market system and capitalist fund raising methods to Obama’s full advantage during the campaign to market to all of us that the economy was in a shambles. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling us how bad things were, he and Stewart apparently are surprised that we believed their rhetoric. Did neither of them understand that markets are about psychology?

The uproar over the free markets in the housing debacle has reached a crescendo with the Cramer versus Stewart debate. Dramatic claims demanding more regulation are ever present. Shock over the bonuses paid at AIG is unfolding by the second.

The conventional wisdom is that the Federal Government, the Stimulus and TARP must demand more accountability over how federal funds are being spent.

In reality the uproar should be about why the government became investors in the first place. It is quite clear that a more robust monetary policy was needed in 2007 and 2008. It was equally clear that some very horrible lending and borrowing practices took place since the late 1990’s.

What did not take place, though, is the demand that companies, banks, workers, investors, borrowers, and homeowners be responsible for their own decisions.

Instead, Congress decided that those who fulfilled their moral and legal obligations will be required to pay for those who did not. Congress in its own wisdom decided that our Nation was victimized by the banks. Congress decided that Congress alone can solve our Nation’s woes despite a track record to the contrary.

Stewart’s sarcasm about who knew what when, reminds me of a comment I received from an editor in July 2008 when I wrote that oil would be below $75 a barrel by year end. With the same thought process in mind, might I remind Mr. Stewart of the following?

• Oil prices will rebound to $70 a barrel by year end 2009
• Bank stocks will show strong earnings in the first quarter and for all of 2009 and will be tremendous investments in 2009
• When the Stimulus spending occurs, inflation will increase substantially to over 7% by year end 2010.
• The Administration will inflate our way out of the recession
• One of the best investments in an inflationary environment is real estate
• Stewart will claim in mid-2010 that Wall Street defrauded millions out of their homes with the "fictitious" recession

Until everyone realizes that self determination guides our lives and that markets will be free whether or not governments allow them to be, we will be destined to attempt to control the uncontrollable. Our citizens will continue to believe that they are victims and a cycle of poverty will never cease.

What I do know for certain is that governments structured the way that Obama, Pelosi and Reid are dreaming have failed throughout history to perpetuate anything but poverty. Having spent time in Poland in 1991 and Romania and Bulgaria in 1996, the feelings of euphoria of the masses when they swore off the leg irons of socialism and communism were electric. I pray that we, as a Nation, never have to experience the full wrath of a government controlled economy.

I am concerned that we as a Nation do not understand our 10th Amendment to the Constitution: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

I have read the Constitution from cover to cover and I did not find one mention of a bailout, of corporate compensation, TARP, or Stimulus. Perhaps our meddling and trying to prevent discomfort for our citizens today are really masks for the pain and suffering we will inflict on our children and grandchildren for decades to come.

Our forefathers knew better. Perhaps we should listen. Perhaps Stewart should listen.

Frank Ryan, CPA specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics and corporate governance for National and State CPA Associations. He is on the boards of numerous non-profit and public companies. He can be reached at [email protected]