The giant Wall Street bailout has touched off a cascade of outrage among us common folk. Dolores Kantrowitz of Miami Beach, responding to my column about the $700 billion gift to investment bankers, captured the prevailing sentiment nicely in an e-mail despairing that “that all crooks go unpunished.’
“Enron, the President, Republicans and Democrats alike - get
a slap on the wrist when they are naughty."
But why not require them, Kantrowitz suggested, to give back “all the money they stole. This is what I taught my children - if you break it you replace it. If you steal it you
return it or if you already used it - pay for it with an apology.
“Why are the crooks getting a slap - a minimum fine? If they go to prison it is a
white collar country club.
“Every one of us is to blame. I know that. It’s the Me society
and the heck with you. Someone has to cry out until it sinks in.”
Frances Griffith, a regular correspondent, was equally adamant:
"Since I am a taxpayer, paying for my house on time, paying all of my taxes on time, paying all of my other bills on time, including paying off my credit card every month, I think that when I become an owner on Wall Street I should be a voting member of a Board of Directors that will vote on all decisions including golden parachutes and bonuses.
"My resume includes the fact that I have bought and sold several houses without ever defaulting on a loan. Also, most years of my life I've had a budget and lived within it. I think those two things alone should be great qualifications.
"I don't think I should be the only one. I think all of the CEOs and Board members should have to have those qualifications," Griffith wrote.
Law Professor Donald Jones wrote:
"We need to rescue the victims, the working families who are loosing their homes, not the perpetrators of the crisis. There are 10,000 foreclosure filings a day in the United States. This is the economic equivalent of a tidal wave which threatens to sweep away all prosperity. The federal government needs to massively restructure loans , lowering the cost of loans to borrowers. This massive restructuring will stop the wave. Once the tidal wave of foreclosures has been stopped the housing market will recover, though at more affordable prices and in turn the majority of financial institutions will recover. This bears a resemblance to policies of debt forgiveness that the federal government used during the depression. This kind of government intervention is strong medicine but it is less radical than Paulson's own form of corporate socialism."
Jones was just getting wound up:
"Secretary Paulson's alternative will likely leave the struggling homeowners to continue to drown in the flood of foreclosure. In our system those who take the risks reap the rewards or take the consequences. Paulson's proposal changes the rule of individual responsibility, which the republicans love to talk about, at taxpayer's expense. In Bush's words, Wall Street got drunk, and Paulson's proposal is for the tax payer to pay the tab for its carousing . As wall street outstretches its palm for yet another handout the American people should say to them what the Republicans say to the urban poor, 'work not welfare.' "
My good friend a Slats was blunter yet in his evaulaton. "Do you think that before Hank Paulson gets his check without any restrictions or recouse in how he spends it, just ONE PERSON might suggest that this is the last chance Bush and Cheney have of making all their big spender buddies happy."