Sunday, September 21, 2008

Households First

Below is a copy of a letter I just sent to my senators (and for good measure, Sens Clinton and Obama too) about the atrocious bailout program the treasury is trying to shock doctrine into place. I suggest that you all get on your emails and send your own request that our government think of Households First in any bailout plan. (Thanks again to BlueLyon for the phrase that pays).

Dear Senator:

In the current financial crisis, I beg you to think of households first.

Being at the bottom of the the barrel, with an income of less than half the poverty line and also being a single, now homeless, mother, has made my child and me the first victims of the economic downturn. We have always struggled, but the last year or so has been particularly bad. Where we used to spend one week of the month eating ramen noodles for dinner, we now spend two. We used to have a home. A place we lived for 5 years, one month and 26 days. Now we are couch surfing with whatever friends can take us in. I have been employed by the same place for 5 years, without a single raise, without healthcare, and without pension or retirement benefits. And I work for a community college. We used to be middle class, but life in the Bush economy has never been kind to us.

And then I see that the government is about to spend 700 billion to bail out the banksters. 700 billion (not counting the money already spent to bail out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) and I am gobsmacked. As a country we can't come up with the money to make sure that people are housed and fed and treated when they are sick, but we can come up with the money to make sure that the financial tricksters don't have to pay for the risk they willingly took on. I may not be an economist, but I do know one of the basic tenets of capitalism is that those who can and do take the risks get the gain, but must suffer the consequences also. With these bailouts we have removed the downside of risk for them. We, the American people, have taken on the risk with none of the gain. And we are supposed to hand this bailout over to the profiteers with as little oversight and reform as possible. We might as well declare the Treasury Department to be an unquestionable god like entity with the powers they want enacted.

Now I may be atrocious when it comes to providing for my family financially, but I do know one thing. When my child comes home with atrocious grades, I don't bail him out by doing his homework for him. I don't punish him for misbehaving by buying him an ice cream cone. I know that would just reinforce the idea that bad behavior gets rewarded. The government cannot reward the bad behavior of the financial sector with a blank check and a pat on the back. And no one has explained to me how these bailouts are going to help the millions of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. To the contrary, I have heard the foreclosures are about to go up as ARMs are the next style of mortgage to go on the chopping block.

As a representative of the people of this country, I beg you to think Households First when it comes to the economy. It is real people who are losing their homes. Real people who can't make the same dollar they had yesterday stretch as far today. And it is those same people who are going to carry the tax debt for any bailout. It makes sense that they should be the first beneficiaries of assistance. The truth is that it doesn't matter if John McCain can't remember if he has 7 or 8 houses when so many people are about to lose their only home.

The government's first and most important job is to provide security for the people. For the Republicans, this has always been interpreted to mean strictly military security. But the current economy is inflicting a kind of violence on the populace that only strong governmental measures can stop. It is your job to protect us. The current plan from the treasury department will only strengthen the case for continued economic violence against the American people. It might be a better idea to just take the 700 billion and directly pay off as many sub-prime mortgages as possible. At least then we'd know the money was going to the people who need it. What difference does it make that they are paying income taxes instead of mortgages? Households first, then banks and brokers and insurance companies. This country is made up of households and the people that create them. And we are suffering. Please do you job and stop this continued assault on the American people. Don't pass the bailout bill without remembering who is paying for it, and how little we will benefit from it.


No comments: