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A Bailout for Homeowners?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, guest host Deborah Amos spoke with NEW YORK TIMES business columnist Joe Nocera about the recent federal bailouts of large institutions and what might happen next.

Nocera said that the federal government should attempt to bail out homeowners:

“This is not an issue of compassion or liberalism or anything like that. This has to do with solving the financial crisis. You cannot solve the financial crisis if you don’t solve the problem at the root, which is on Main Street in people’s homes where they either have subprime mortgages that are going to reset in ways that will make them unable to pay their mortgages, or they’re already facing foreclosure... the money that you would spend now to modify mortgages and help keep people in their homes would be more than justified because if you don’t do it, the financial ramifications are going to be huge.”

Some have contended that a homeowner bailout is more difficult and complex than it sounds. Nocera’s fellow NEW YORK TIMES columnist David Leonhardt urged caution:

“Coming up with a large-scale homeowner bailout without also helping millions of people who don’t need help is almost impossible... As soon as the government announces that it will help everyone at risk of foreclosure, a lot of people are suddenly going to decide they’re at risk for foreclosure... Multiply 19 million mortgages by a couple of hundred thousand dollars, and the government could be left with $4 trillion in obligations.”

What do you think?

  • Should the federal government attempt a bailout of homeowners not keeping up with their mortgages? Why or why not?

  • Would such a bailout create a “moral hazard” that condones and/or encourages irresponsible financial behavior? Explain.

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    I'm getting sick an tired of all of you racist jerks telling people like me I don't deserve a break. I am trying to create a better life for myself and my son. I bought a nice house in the subburbs to get away from the inner city..that is no place for a child to grow up. I needed to buy a SUV since my job is quite far away and it is necessary because it is safer than a small car and its just to inconvenient for me to take a bus. I didn't go to school like all of you racist rich people who where born with a silver spoon in your mouth. I'm six month behind in mortgage payments and 2 months behing in car payments. I desearve some help. I was planning on taking my son to disney world this summer and unless I get some help that probably isn't going to happen.

    This is coming from a guy who get's up everyday to go to work sick or not, knowing that he's the only one that the future of his family dependes on. I have a wife of 18 years and a beautiful daughter who's 14. My wife has been very ill and out of work and eventually lost her job back in september of 2007. I have had some hard times with the mortgage company. They gave me a loan modification being I fell behind on my payments. We went from a 9.25 interest rate to a 9.13 (which is no difference at all) and my monthly payment stayed the same ,but they did drop the principal from 290,000 to 280,000 which in complete honesty didn't help us out not one bit.
    The Goverment should help families with one income that make between 30,000 to 60,000 a year. We are the middle class who are the one's who need the help. I'm so tired of hearing about others saying that helping the homeowners out is not the way to go. I say let them live a month in out shoes struggling due to circumstances and see how many wouldn't sign up for that switch.

    I always find people who blame everything on everyone, except, except the "corruption" that got us into this in the first place. It always makes me wonder, what that persons place is in the corruption, and is this a confession of sorts, to themselves? Since they put the blame of the "sheepish consumers, do they suddenly feel better now?

    I have just watched Jordan and Greenwald for the third time, trying to understand how bloggers evaluated their analysis. Greenwald seems a buttondown throwback to the 50s who advocates retribution but has no power base from which to assert such actions. Jordan is overly forgiving and idealistic, maybe because she realozes that our institutions (except for financial elites) are almost powerless and unlikely to take action She does say those at the bottom should be admired for taking risks to protest, but offers them little hope of advocacy or justice. If Greenwald's analysis centers on Congressman Cummings word "Chump', Jordan's centers on the phrase "death spiral." What is dying is American exceptionalism. Maybe we lived too well too long and cascade failure was inevitable. Our empire and our economy are kaput.

    The conclusion is that Greenwald legalists have no grounds to stand upon, no fulcrum of justice, and no lever left to move things for needed change. Time has also expired on the balance sheets Ms. Jordan surmises and our economy will collapse into a black hole. We stand now at the mirosecond before the event horizon.

    The American experiment has ended. We have proven that representative democracy and justice are always and inevitably incompatible with a capitalist economic system. Karl Marx predicted it in his outrage, but he never in his wildest dreams thought it would be this severe or this hopeless.

    How long will it be before we begin rebuilding among the ashes. Look at Galveston; look at the worst parts of New Orleans; look at the Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe. Learn from them working people. No help is on the way. The elites are already looting and fleeing.

    A solid citizen friend just told me that State Street Bank has just announced big layoffs, even though they're in good shape financially, not having participated in the mortgauge mess. He explained that they received a couple of billion from the bailout and now have to play be new rules.
    I recently heard that Bank of America did pretty much the same thing...and they just announced big layoffs.
    Can this be true? and if so, what were the bailers thinking???

    There are a number of ways to fix the economy, but simply handing out big fat checks to homeowners who refuse to pay their mortgages is definitely not one of them.

    Wealth creation is the basis of a functioning economy. This is not to be confused with redistribution of wealth, which actually thwarts wealth creation in a number of ways.

    There are two sides to wealth creation: productivity (which requires technical innovation, investment, education, and talented, driven people), and consumption (which requires freedom of choice and freedom to keep most of one's income).

    For the right conditions to exist, you need free markets plus some government regulation to prevent abuses and to uphold the rule of law. You also need a population that is willing to earn its wealth, rather than turn to the government for handouts and/or manipulation of the housing market.

    As Reagan used to say, “Government isn’t the solution to our problems, government IS the problem.” The government sewed the seeds of The Bailout Nation, starting back in 2001 when it forced banks to lower their lending standards so that more members of minorities could qualify for mortgages. The government must have known that “affordable housing”, as it proclaimed this would encourage, could only be sustained with massive subsidies and bailouts. Now, we are well on our way to becoming a full-blown socialist nation full of people with an entitlement mentality.

    As I said, there are ways to fix the economy, but this won’t happen given our new Administration. It’s hard to say whether we will experience inflation or deflation. Predicting the markets will be nearly impossible, so investment will dry up, and with it technical innovation and productivity. The only certainties are more immigration, more unemployment, more welfare, and higher taxes on the most productive people.

    Home Mortgages got us into this Crisis …Home Mortgages could get us out!

    Government Backed “Mortgage Based” Economic Rescue Plan!

    What If??? The Government offered a new Mortgage based rescue plan revolving around government backed “Very Low” ARMS. (adjustable rate mortgages) for Financing Home Purchases , Re-finances and an all new “Rent to Own” Program.

    Let’s look at how each of these would work and the benefits associated with them!

    Home Purchases:
    Offer A Government backed “RESCUE ARM” that would start at a very low interest rate, say 3% or lower that would adjust up (i.e every 5 years by 2% or 3 years by 1%) a maximum of 2 times. This program would be available to all banks who wish to participate. *The Government would hold first position on the deed of trust.

    To qualify an applicant would have to live in the home as a primary residence (no investor purchases) have an average or better credit score and have a down payment equal to 2 months family income.

    This kind of program would obviously Stimulate Existing Home Sales and New Home Construction, as well as, Reduce inventory and increase value of existing homes

    Existing Home Refinances:
    The same program could be used to make existing homes more affordable during this ecomomic slowdown thus eliminating many new foreclosures and providing a means for paying down expensive consumer debt! (i.e Credit Card and home equity loans, as well as, Student Loans.)

    Applicants would be able to apply for a refinance of up to 125 to 150% of homes current value with the provision that all equity received be used to pay off existing consumer debt. (Title company would handle equity distribution just as they do now)

    New Rent To Own Program
    For people with damaged credit who couldn’t qualify for the Home Purchase Program or for people facing Foreclosure or who have already been effected by foreclosure, this program would allow people to apply for a “rent to own” program as a Bridge to Ownership. Rent would be equal to the same payment as the 3% Terms of The Purchase Program. Timely payments would go towards rebuilding credit score (maybe “special” scoring credits) and allow time to save the down. Upon being able to qualify for the Purchase Program rent to own could be converted to purchase program.

    This program would certainly reduce new foreclosures, as well as, getting homes that are sitting empty due to a “foreclosure” or “unable to sell” occupied with all of the benefits
    That an occupied home provides over an un-occupied home.

    I must say I'm all for this, it would help me immensely. When i bought my home I was able to make the payments everymonth, however i was seriously ill at the beginning of this year and missed a good deal of work, combine that with rising costs for merchandise and gas(which is just now back down to a reasonable level) is has made it much more difficult to make payments. A bailout just to get me current and caught up is all that would be needed

    I find it most interesting that Congress wants all these rules/stipulations and controls on the Auto Industry to bail them out - and has not demanded the same of the Financial Industry. Now - to throw the blame some place else, let's accuse home owners in trouble. At least the Auto Industry supplies jobs to the "average" person. Who next will stand in line with their hand out while hiding their billions?

    While we're at it - let's blame the People for not buying things. We won't mention lack of jobs, spendable income and a total disgust with the Wealthy getting all they want.

    They say we need credit opened up - yet isn't it the excess buying on credit part of the problem? Let's face it - you have to be part of the "masses" to honestly see solutions to the problem. The wealthy financiers, Congress et al are too busy protecting their own bank accounts to save the country.

    How about we let the wealthy retire to their islands and let the people get this country back as a viable nation again?

    Ellison Hunt and I and others want to know when commoners will sit around your football shaped table, Bill Moyers. You could choose 5 people from this blog if you really wanted to, people with something substantive to say. Ellison, a homegrown expert on capitalist markets, who has strong doubts about another round of the same, has challenged you, and he should have a seat. (I exclude myself in deference to others like, Fran G., Linda Verde, Betsy Whitfill, Annie, beecham, Munia W., David Eddy, Jim Bullis, any of the Figgers, and so on and so on.) People in the PBS audience not exposed to this blog need to know how others think and how much fortitude for new ways is being charged up. Der Spiegel (Germany's top mainstream magazine) has asserted Kapital-Crimes have been committed. It is your place to hold a tentative inquest in anticipation of rebuilding and reconciliation. A lay panel would be a positive signal that you value persons without wealth and influence equally, or do you?

    You agreed with Jack Martin that:"Becoming or remaining extremely wealthy (or extremely poor)in a fair and just society is extremely difficult.
    I think you agree with me that:"No Global problem can be solved until a general and universal empowerment is achieved."
    By not responding to Ellison Hunt's gentlemanly challenge you confirm my assertion that:"Injustice as entertainment is sadism."
    Would you seduce your audience into such perverse and dooming pleasure?

    Any solution to the financial crisis that depends on propping up house prices that are simply too high is bound to fail.
    Whatever we do, we have to accept that the price of homes, like oil, has dropped. To prop them up costs us twice: once on the bailout of mortgages and again in the form of expensive homes.

    I just learned and that is, if it is true and I suspect it is, that the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve have now spent 7 Trillion Dollars on the Bailout.

    That is tax dollars paid by you and me to be used for the good of the people, not for the Banks and Corporations who have failed and now are being paid for failing.

    Next the Bailout boys will charge the people for goods and services we have already paid for with tax dollars. That means they made money on bad deals (1) and then when they failed, they made money on the Government bailout (2) and next when they charge us for services they will make money (3) three times over.

    Stop and think for a moment that Seven (7) Trillion Dollars could have paid for the people to have free education through College, free Health Care, and every Home Mortgage paid off and in full.

    Someone suggested I believe it was on CNN that the Tax Payer be given a Tax Holiday and not pay Income Taxes for the year of 2008. CAN you imagine the PAN DORA’S BOX that would open. Congress would have a heart attack and the Tax Payer would be appalled to find out just how much money they are being charged to live in their own Country… that is if they can get it back from the Government.

    Here is the great Paradox of our time. Instead of the people voting in senators and representatives that work for the people… the bottom 84% of the population is against Redistribution of Wealth………….

    But the Top 16% of the Wealthy are very much for it and have accomplished it without any one saying no. Thank you very much from them, I’m sure.

    So now the Top 16% have 7 trillion dollars to do with as they may because they are too special to let fail.

    And just the opposite the bottom 84% are going to fail big-time and with great pain over the next 3 to 5 years if lucky. They however are in denial and do not at present time see the grim reaper (F.G.) of wealth taking everything and giving nothing.

    I will always speak for the Citizen and their Family in the this country but I have no truck with the folly of the populace….

    People don’t change unless they are in great pain and are forced to move toward the new and different.

    Things end badly or else they would not end.

    Democracy is not a good form of Government because it allows the citizen to be lazy and not hold the elected accountable.

    The Free Market will not stand, yet 7 trillion dollars have been wasted trying to arbitrary support it knowing the value is not there to do so.

    Capitalism is a failure of Greed and wanting too much too fast.

    All three of these Sacred Cows have failed the citizen and not one has been asked to serve the greater good of the people and not business.

    If Democracy and the Free Market and Capitalism are to work they must be regulated by rules that require:

    Contracts between the Voter and the Elected that force promises to be kept.
    The removal of Lobbyist and the influence of money.

    Transparency of transactions.
    Value between buyer and seller.
    Refrain from deals for deals sake or deals for convenience. (In plain words, not allowing deals just because they are not illegal.)

    That capitalism be brought to heel and made to make the bottom line – the people and not profit.
    What serves us best is the corporation who makes a good product or service and pays fair wages and benefits (inflation plus a real increase) and who makes a profit but not on the backs of its workers and customers.

    Shareholders are like leaches attempting to suck the benefits of the customers and workers away from them by doing no more then placing a bet on the rise and fall of a Market of Paper. That is way Shareholders are last in line to receive anything in Bankruptcy Court.

    A Stock Certificate has about as much connection to a Corporation as a Vote does to a candidate that is voted for. Both the Stock Certificate and the Vote offer a sense of security that does in real life not exist.

    A note: There was a time when the Stock Market might have been needed but now with all the professional funds and their Computer Programs there is no chance of the small investor making much on his or her investment and if so it would have been out of luck in that they just happen to buy with the Funds did but I assure they will not sell at the same time and will be left holding the bag.

    Therefore I say that the Stock Brokers, Bankers, and Funds on Wall Street deserve nothing from the rules and regulations to protect them and should be exposed for who and what they are. Thieves filled with guile, greed, and arrogance, throwing their ill gotten gains reaped from the small investor, at the Congress to get paid as they just have Three (3) times over and loving it and just waiting for the next round to shear the sheep of Main Street.

    Yes Sir, the boys on Wall Street and the Lobbyist, have the Congress in their back pockets.

    So, will we have strong Regulations and Strong Enforcement and Representation of the people or…………. Will we have a Twenty or Thirty Trillion Dollar Debt and worthless money? Will that be enough pain for everyone? I doubt it.

    I am angry and sad at the same time.

    No one Stands responsible, no one Stand a Leader, and no one is presenting a New System.

    Everybody seems interested in fixing the Old System as soon as possible and getting back to the good old days and the next bubble on wall street.

    Bill Moyers, will you ever get out of your comfort zone and put 5 common people around your table and just out of curiosity ask them the kind of questions you ask your intellectual friends.

    Actually, I'm not sure anymore whether it would have made a difference that Bill Moyers was on-air. But journalists are NOT asking questions, tough or not. Joe Nocera is terrific, and insightful, but anybody who's followed all this bailout nonsense KNOWS a basic truth ... the banks and credit operations came up with crazy deals in order to tempt unqualified loan recipients into the money game, and they got caught.
    So, for Nocera to say that all these banks are the same - "indistinguishable" - when they in fact carefully crafted these loan instruments to screw people who didn't know any better into borrowing ... that DEMANDS an immediate challenge from Deb Amos, and he didn't get it.
    Lousing reporting, lousy interviewing, from somebody who should know better.

    Joe Nocera spoke about a plan from Sheila Blair to help homeowners get their loans modified. I suspect he was talking about this:

    I'm thinking I might express support for this idea, because it seems the best way for the government to care about people and to fix the crisis at the same time. Having the loans modified so that they are payable will keep people in their homes.

    However, the cost is important. How can the cost be kept restricted to Blair's expectation of $40 billion (rather than $4 trillion)?


    It's sad that even when it should be clear that socialism will save capitalism, they don't do it. Trickle-down economics has been proven an utter failure, but someone seems to have forgotten to tell that to Bush and friends.

    We're now in a dismal fiscal situation: we're employing both Keynesian and corporate socialism at the same time, and both are proving to be enormously expensive.

    And you're right: the current situations are what bankruptcy was made for. We should be giving money to the human victims of the financial mess--not corporations--made up entities who may all soon return to the ether from which they came.

    And you're right again: the Big Three should be allowed to go into chapter 11 bankruptcy; they will come out better than ever--with higher profitability opportunities than they've had for years; however, the shareholders will be wiped out, and they are probably the ones clamoring for a government bailout, but there is no need for a government bailout. America's big banks received $290 billion from the U.S. treasury; those banks can save GM if they want to, and if the banks see that the Big Three don't have viable business models--too bad.

    The fact that a bailout was not rejected with laughter indicates a distinct stupidity in our government and society.

    Maybe some day the wealthy government appointees put into place by their wealthy employers (senators/president etc) will realize that bailing out the wealthy won't force people to buy what they are selling us. I can walk out to the barn and get what they are selling for free.

    Thank you for having someone on with a good sense of reality. It's all about the People, I'm on a consumer protest - I'm not buying anything but the basics - and that in lesser amounts, until they figure it out.

    Third Shoe and defining what that is. 11/25/08

    I have been talking about a second shoe falling for some time and it did but it was not what I believed it to be but now I have a better way to explain it.

    The second shoe was the second freeze of the Financial Markets brought on by the failure of Citibank. When that happened I realized that what I am looking for is the crash that will come when the Fed. Gov. and the Fed. Res. go broke and can’t give any more money away.

    We the taxpayers are now at 3.4 Trillion dollars in the red… on the bail-out (not counting the 11 or 12 trillion est. on the war) good money thrown after bad. Last night on Charlie Rose a guess stated it at 2.6 Trillion according to news papers (or you might say what the government admits to) I am not sure how many trillions of dollars will be given away before the whole country implodes. The Treasure gave another 800 Billion away today according to NPR. That money was not authorized by Congress or put another way no-one stands between the Corporate Socialism and the poor house.

    The Federal Government and the new Administration must be in a complete panic to give away Trillions of dollars to Corporate America thinking it will change there behavior. If a gambler in Las Vegas is on a role of good luck he will let it ride…. If Banks, Insurance companies, Corporations, and ESPECIALLY WALL STREET, who are the best at milking the suckers on Main Street, see that failure brings Billions of dollars to them… where is the incentive to succeed, as this will stop the flow, of free money?

    In the end the White Collar American Rich will be so rich they will have to spend a good proportion of their money on security. They will be prisoners of their own Ivory Towers and a cage is a Cage even if it is gold. Evil may rule but it has a way of making its own sick.

    In the end the Federal Government will only be able to say to the tax payer that they can not afford to give the working class any help.

    Number 43 came out bragging about giving billions to business and said he would give more if it suited him. How rich does it intent to make them in the next 2 months?

    Another thing I just learned is that people rich or poor will not change until the pain is so great that change is seen as a relief.

    The answer is to stop giving money to Failures. The Bankruptcy Courts should take them over and force them to change and become Smaller.

    If a Bank or an Insurance Company or a Car Company is so big it can not fail… it is already failed in all ways that are logical and should be divided up.

    This country once knew that monopolies were in the end dangerous and could cause markets to fail. Why did Congress allow any Business Concern no matter the name or definition to be come so big as to be perceived as unable to fail.

    Why should business want to do the hard work of dividing up companies when the F.G. will pay them to stay afloat?

    Everyone cries out that we must be the biggest and the best with the most and control the Global Economy. We can’t even control our on thieves on Wall Street long enough to get Main Street down sized and back to taking care of the Citizen as opposed to worshiping the Rich and their lap dogs of greed, pride, arrogance, and guile.

    We the USA now worship the God of Money and where did that take us? At present day we are floundering around in the death throws of Capitalism. I have said before a Free Market will not stand.

    I have also said a well regulated market makes good business sense and Main Street Stability is worth more then all the riches the 1% now has control of. You know that you worship a false God when the majority of people do not live a good life.

    Is there a way to stop the worship of the God of money and greed? Not until the third shoe falls and the majority of people are scared to death and hungry and truly do not know what tomorrow will bring.

    We in the United States of America will not have security or peace or stability of employment or stability of markets, or health care, or education, until that day when the God of Money is dead and Mankind realizes that it is

    the people, who make the family, who make the community, who makes possible the employers, and who makes possible a government. It is a bottom up process not a top down process.

    A top down process is evil and is led by evil people of self interest. A stock market is not necessary if Main Street stability is more important then cheap profits. Let the Corporations go to the banks for loans. The present system of letting them go to the suckers on Wall Street didn’t work so well as the failure of Capitalism shows.

    I have studied the stock market all my life and I can live with it to a point. But share holders do not own companies they only own a piece of paper and this is seldom made transparent to investors.

    The lie of the American Dream is, that “paper” is worthless and has led to more pain then any other lie told to those seeking to save for a rainy day. How could those who would lead not tell those who sought to save that the market does not and can not go up forever and any attempt to prop it up will fail of its own weight…………..

    One example of what needs to be done and this is the type of thing that needs to be done many times over.

    Instead of throwing 50 billion dollars at the Black Hole know as the big 3, why don’t we invest 50 billion dollars in Tesla Motors? That would allow them to build their assembly line for Total Electric Cars and add a second assembly line for Pickup Trucks.

    I say invest in a company who will succeed not 3 already failed car companies.

    Since it is my tax money, and yours, should not the Federal Government allow us to choose a successful company?

    Also if the Federal Government steals our tax dollars to save failed companies without our consent, would not it be stupid to buy cars from thieves? Sounds harsh, but it is true… we will never see that money again and we will have to buy something we already paid for. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    A supervisory co-worker cornered my sister, who works as a clerk at the county health department, "Have you ever been a HOMEOWNER, Elise?"
    "Well, No," Sis replied.
    "It's people like you living from paycheck to paycheck, never saving or investing in a HOME who are causing property values to fall," asserted the oppressor. "You could get a mortgage right now if you wanted to...(and so on)"
    Elise came home and cried about this (She shares an apartment with our 89 year old Mom, who continues volunteering at the hospital.) So we began to question the idea of "being a HOMEOWNER."
    If Mom and Elise "owned" a HOME they would be responsible for taxes and maintenance. Any equity would have to be liquidated before Mom could get Medicaid, should her Medicare benefits be exhausted. They pay $550 a month, and almost any mortgage payment would be higher (Insurance and other fees would be added on.) Even a person owning a house outright can have it sold for ever-rising unpaid property or school taxes. Elise is 60 and has never made much money. She would have few years to pay on a mortgage, and no one to inherit a house. (No children.)
    I'm 58, and I have never been a "Homeowner" either. I once lived with a woman who inherited a house. She didn't expect or want me to share in it. That's one reason we never married. (Right now I'm house-sitting a friend's mobile home and dogs while he contracts overseas.It's OK.)
    People who pay down with a lender holding most of the equity are really only another species of renter. If you're upside-down on your loan you're a renter in Hell. Ours is a national system where property is more sacred than life and a tiny minority owns almost all of everything. Many of you "HOMEOWNERS" are only fooling yourselves.
    It is that same corporate capitalist system, with sacred property rights for the wealthy, that keeps down alternative energy, wholesome food, a healthy environment, freedom of thought and belief, and even reproductive freedom.
    I can't see how we can expect better until we cap the right to great wealth, not just because they own everything, but also because they totally distort our choices, our values and our reasoning.
    The problems we have facing us (Climate change,sustainability,and universal education) require almost total participation before we solve them. Clearly, most of us do not feel free to participate in these solutions at present. We are wage slaves and worse in a world with adequate food production and surplus housing.
    Are we going to watch food spoil because of low or no wages, watch housing crumble from lack of occupants, watch the continued production of toxic nuclear plants and gas burning vehicles subsidized by our taxes. We know better. We want to be citizens, not consumer-peons. Even the gentlest of us now has the obligation to question and resist.
    Elise questioned the know-it -all the next day at work. The oppressive supervisor is upside-down in a condo where she is behind on her maintenance fee and can't even have a containerized tomato plant.
    Has she ever been a HOMEOWNER? Has she ever!!!!!

    You know, it occurred to me the other day that what the Republican Party really wants is limited liability for all its actions in the White House.

    When you own stock, what's the worst that can happen? Your stock goes to zero. Do you lose your savings? No.

    When you work at a company and you take risks with the company's money, what's the worst that can happen when you mess up? You get fired. Do you have to chip in out of your own pocket to help cover the losses from the ill-advised risks you took? No.

    When you are a Republican Administration official, what's the worst that can happen to you if you commit crimes and abuse your power and the people's trust? You get pardoned or have your sentence commuted. And it's very unlikely things will go that far. Much more likely you just have to leave because people vote your party out. That's what the Republicans largely got in the Nixon era.

    That's a lot of what happened in the Reagan/Bush I era - think Bush I's pardon of Cap Weinberger and 5 others who started to testify under oath that Bush I was lying through his teeth when the former CIA head no less said he didn't know a thing about the Iran-Contra affair.

    The Republican administration wants limited liability. Plain and simple.

    So what does limited liability encourage? Risk taking. Or in the case of Republican Administration who have had a string of felony convicts starting with a crooked President himself forced from office, more lawbreaking. If they can, they will. Haven't we seen enough?

    Isn't it time to stop treating lawbreaking Republicans like fat-cat investors and hold them accountable to the law like everyone else? If we don't, guess what's coming in 4 years, or 8 or 12. Many of them are young. If we don't make cleaning up a priority, the Republican lawlessness will be back bigger than ever. I guarantee it.

    Well lets bailout CITICORP banking with tax payer dollars and leave the same lame ceo and management in place after how they screwed up and ran that corporation into the ground.Lets bailout the big U.S.A. car corporations that gave us better deals/thousands off because they screwed the steelworkers and its unions to get cheap JAPAN STEEL!They have never recovered thousands of jobs lost and did those autoworkers give a rats butt no!! I do not see any great deals on cars&trucks yet.How about those american car corporations send all those jobs to MEXICO,CHINA&INDIA to pay cheap wages and polute all they want by not having to deal with the E.P.A..Wheres all that billion,millions of dollars gone too?

    I find it interesting the comments on other sites about bailouts and it seems now that when a depression looms on the front, we all become socialists. It's somewhat simplistic, but humorous, because not too long ago people were all capitalists, yelling drill, drill and wanting big government to get out of the way and let the free market operate, and please lower those taxes. How fast the tide turns when the wealthy bail themselves out and you, the tax payer, is left wanting, something--anything.

    Reading Mr. Nocera's NY Times piece of November 21st, I see he is as much a fascist as is Mitt Romney and Professor Morici (who testified before the Senate Banking Cmte last week along with the Big Three execs). New York City REEKS of fascism. Every corner of the media it houses is polluted with an ideology so far removed from the spirit of the American Revolution, it is little wonder every aspect of a business model hoping to sustain fantasy over any pursuit of truth is failing. May it die in greater agony than industrial America has been subjected for far too many decades.

    Instead of throwing 50 billion dollars at the Black Hole know as the big 3, why don’t we invest 50 billion dollars in Tesla Motors? That would allow them to build their assembly line for Total Electric Cars and add a second assembly line for Pickup Trucks.

    I say invest in a company who will succeed not 3 already failed car companies.

    Since it is my tax money, and yours, should not the Federal Government allow us to choose a successful company?

    Also if the Federal Government steals our tax dollars to save failed companies without our consent, would not it be stupid to buy cars from thieves? Sounds harsh, but it is true… we will never see that money again and we will have to buy something we already paid for. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    Lets Try an if then Proposition...
    If we want a stable economic system then it will be necessary to provide sufficient wages to provide a demand for goods and services.
    The size of the numbers for purchasing power has to be consistent with the cost of goods and services.
    It is counter productive to have goods and services available and then the people that need those goods and services unable to pay for the Goods and services.
    Greed and avarice undermines the economic system when available funds are held by those who do not need the goods and services. It is necessary to prevent offshore banking of funds that suck money out of our economic system.
    In order to have an equitable and just system of economics there must be an equitable distribution of goods and services because that is the engine that drives the economy.
    Otherwise, there is no faith in the system and people are deluged with advertisement of goods and srvices they cannot afford. Basing economics on random investment instead of supply and demand is doomed to failure.

    I think the US government should deliver the mail and leave the rest to ourselves. That would be a true democracy, a government of self rule,
    And why we ultimately came to this new land.
    Oh to be free!


    Mr. Nocera refreshes discussion of our financial crisis. Thank you for interviewing him.

    We seem bent of vengence and blaming. Mr. Nocera does not seem to take that course of seeking vengence on some easy Jaris Riggs like target.

    The Wages of Sin...
    It is obvious that there was and is a series of scams to steal billions of dollars from the tax payers, the stock market and the banking system.
    Because of these scams people are losing their homes, losing their investments and losing their jobs. Those who are responsible for these scams are undermining the security and the stability of this nation.
    Those who have profited by these scams must be prosecuted for their crimes against this nation and stripped of their ill gotten gains. The lies and excuses cannot be ignored if we are going to survive this attack on the people of this nation.

    The terrorism threat is no more than a smoke screen to cover up the real threat to our nation.

    There is an enormous lie floating around that bad mortgage debt has taken down Humpty Dumpty. Then all the kings men gather to reassemble.

    Well the bail out and or rescue is a boondoggle. What is further shameful is that only .00000000000001 percent of the population will benefit. What a nice life line for the mega rich who own and or control the Billion dollar companies that have no benefit for their existence to 99.9999999 percent of this population.

    This cements this government in becoming not a democracy but an oligarchy. A place bent in punishing the meek and the weak while rewarding the ruthless and the wicked.

    True to the lies and miss information bad mortgages may have tilted the scales just a little bit. However once the scales went into there downward spiral all of these reverse guarantees and short selling tilted the scales that much further.

    Never have we seen so much ill respect for a persons labor. And never has Labor been made of such mockery.

    Labor which is most everyone in the 99.99999999 of us need to wise up and organize and toss these thugs to the wolves.

    I don't need a bank or a insurance company telling me how to subtract color from my life.

    It is almost like everything needs to be taken apart in large chunks or small pieces and reassembled in a totally different fashion.

    And Labor needs to go back on top with a fair living wage with decent treatment and respect.

    Everything that has come down in the past several months have successfully down trodden the working wage. So much for the merit wage increase received in the past year. In the past five years. It has all been taken back.

    We all need to go on strike and show these horrible politicians and these dreadful corporations who is really the boss.

    We start by limiting in a major way our participation with these conventions.

    Jim Doherty Ph.D wrote:

    Joe, for his part, has written a few columns investigating naked short selling…

    It’s too bad you couldn’t provide links to some of his columns to give us a better picture to what you mean.

    And then you tell us how Chris Cox is now calling an emergency yada yada yada. Who cares what he’s calling for, this is Chris Cox that you’re talking about. The same guy who McCain had mistakenly said he would fire, if he were President. Larry, Moe and Curly’s antics are funny, Cox’s aren’t.

    I felt Amos’ interview was very informative and she asked all the right questions. I found this portion to be the most interesting, but at same time very ambiguous.

    DEBORAH AMOS: So he's (Paulson) thinking like an investment banker and not like a Treasury Secretary?

    JOE NOCERA: Right and meanwhile, you've got a situation where, you know, AIG is sucking up government money like crazy. I mean, they're over $100 billion. They have kept coming back for more. And nobody knows where that money is going. That's taxpayer money. What institutions is AIG, AIG is using this money for collateral.

    DEBORAH AMOS: It's a big insurance company, AIG.

    JOE NOCERA: Right. And they made they did had one division that did a lot of dumb things with derivatives and credit default swaps. And now they're paying the price. And the price they're paying is they have to send this money out as collateral to their trading partners. We don't know who those partners are. We don't know what the collateral, how much the collateral is. We don't know who we're propping up by sending this money to AIG. And it's really shameful.

    Maybe you could research this for us, Jim, or better yet, I wish the Bill Moyers Journal would do an entire piece on CDS's to answer these questions (collateral, trading partners...) that Nocera has brought to our attention. We’ll probably have to wait for Henry “The Bulldog” Waxman’s report.

    The saddest part of your story with Joe Nocera is that you chose Joe Nocera. Joe is good at simplifying things so that they match his simple view of the Wall Street collapse. What is not so simple though is how the hedge funds have manipulated the stock market with illegal naked short selling. Joe, for his part, has written a few columns investigating naked short selling and to quote Joe, "most people who understand the issue or have looked into it think it’s pretty bogus".

    In fact, Chairman of the SEC, Chris Cox, is now calling an emergency teleconference with world leaders on Monday Nov. 23, in order to discuss naked short selling and to call for a globally coordinated effort to halt it from crashing even more American companies. Earlier in the summer, he held an unprecedented press conference in which he described naked short selling in detail and its pernicious effect on target stocks. He called for greater enforcement against this illegal practice, a practice carried out by hedge funds for several years now, and a practice which can be attributed with the bankruptcy of at least 300 American companies.

    Joe Nocera, however, does not appear to have the ability to write critically about naked short selling, even though the SEC is now, finally, on the verge of taking some very serious action to put an end to this hedge-fund cash cow.

    Why, one may ask, is Joe Nocera so unwilling to use his post at the NYTimes to explain to the reading public about naked short selling? Is he perhaps a captured financial journalist, captured by the secretive and murky, yet massively capitalized hedge fund industry?

    I can not do the subject justice, so I'll refer the reader to a journalist who has been writing about naked short selling for some time now, and someone who is associated with Patrick Byrne, the CEO of Overstock, who has been warning Americans for 4 years now about the incredibly damaging practice of naked short selling.

    Please see the following investigative journalists website on naked short selling:

    Here is what Joe Nocera said about Patrick Byrne, in regard to naked short selling "“So,” continues Nocera, The New York Times’ top business columnist, “it’s hard to take [Patrick] seriously on that issue when you hear him say something like that. Having said that, you know, I think it probably would be worth somebody’s time to say, Is there something to naked shorting or not? What is naked shorting? What does it mean? What is the problem here? But, you know, life’s too short. I don’t want to do it.” In other words, Joe Nocera thinks life it just to short for him to worry about something so silly as naked short selling.

    What has naked short selling to do with the collapse of Bear Sterns, Citibank, etc. etc.? SEC investigations may bring this all to light very soon. SEC and global securities officials will discuss the issue in an unprecedented emergency call this coming Monday. Stay tuned.. but don't bother staying tuned to Joe Nocera. It will be a cold day in hell before he has the guts to write a column about the pernicious effect of naked short selling and the hedge funds who practice it as a method of securing their huge profits, albeit, illegal profits.

    Perhaps the simplest solution to homeowners' mortgage problem was to extend all 20 or 30 year mortgages to 40 or 50 years with a concomitant reduction in their mortgage rates; this is not my original idea but I can't recall where I read or heard it; not from any politician that I can recall.

    To treat a sick patient we diagnose the disease, determine the cause, and administer treatment. For our economy:

    Toxic mortgage disease is due to excessive borrowing at "teaser" low rates which drove up house prices. The cure is to let the market handle the fall-out one mortgage at a time-no government bail out. This is a self-limited illness from which the borrowers will recover without an "antibiotic" bail out. The lenders will lose lots more money before this is over--there is no cure for having loaned money that cannot be repaid. Next time be more careful.

    For the disease of looming bankruptcies of the Big 3 automakers. The causes are excessive production capacity and costs that are too high for products that are suboptimally competitive. A bail out will treat the symptom but not the disease. The "patient" needs an operation that only a reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws can provide --sort of like a gastric bypass for moribund obesity. Loans to buy more "chips and dip" will not work.

    Falling stock market disease. This is not a disease, it is a symptom. It will cure itself when the underlying disease is cured. Just be patient and have fun on the roller coaster ride.

    No loan available to those with poor credit disease. This is not a disease, it is the cure. The medicine tastes bad but is good for you. Those without the ability to borrow or who cannot repay loans, including mortgages must cure themselves by working and spending less. No pain, no gain! The only available treatment is self-administered earnings.

    Limited credit to big business disease-- big companies do not seem to trust each other and appear to be unable to verify creditworthiness. We need better financial diagnostic tests to determine the financial vital signs of prospective large borrowers to better understand the risk of death. For corporations, their blood is money. So a reliable test for anemia is required, with enforced test standards. Right now, the test (reading a financial statement) is unintelligible to this blogger. To increase trust, large borrowers can demonstrate their commitment to financial health by restricting imprudent expenditures, starting with a reduction in corporate executive compensation and perks that can be as high as 30 times more than the average blogger can earn.

    Would you loan money to a company whose leadership acts as if the company is their personal piggy bank?

    Mr Nocera said what most Americans think & that is Paulson is not up to job, (never was)!

    Negligent homicide is against the law.

    Negligent ECONO-CIDE by those in the FED, including Greenspan, and the Treasury Sect. & the SEC chairman should be adjudicated in our courts!
    (jail time)!

    Construction bubbles always burst, but this one went on to long due to BAD BUSINESS judgement by lending institutions, etc.!

    A SOLUTION that will help nieve homeowners that are in trouble can be worked out without being unfair to those that NEW BETTER.

    If foreclosuer is PAINFUL enough, then only those with no alternative will default on their obligations. If foreclosed homes are sold for more than the mortage, then the "profit" could be split with tax payers supporting the bailout (no roll overs). PAIN but not fatal.

    There are many workable ideas in taxpayers households, but the BRAINS in govt., including Congress, are to busy trying to keep from rocking THEIR boats!

    SOLUTIONS need not be complicated, UNLESS, it is necessary to make 1+1=3!

    Paulson talkes in little circles within a big circle! He lies!

    GAMBLED money is gone from Wall Street and so is the 14,000 in the DJ IND. The new 14,000 is 8,000 (if we are lucky)!

    Those foreclosed on & many with marginal credit scores are GONE from the pool of home buyers! GONE!

    Those that are making minimum payments on multiple credit cards are soon to be GONE!

    YEARS will be required to overcome this TREASON by bank MANAGEMENT, GOVERNMENT, & INSURANCE MANAGEMENT!

    Did a congressman ask THE BIG THREE executives why Toyota, Honda, Hyundai can do so well at manufacturing in this country?

    The answer is that UNION & AUTO MANAGEMENT made deals that COULD NOT work just so they would look good for the next annual report. How can a 2008 auto worker pay for decades of retirees, medical, their own pension, etc. and still compete in the world markets?

    SOLUTIONS need not be complicated, but there WILL be pain.

    Billy Bob, Florida--where the DNP denied our vote & ya'll didn't give a damn!

    @L. A. Lacey,

    Your idea demonstrates why America was made a republic rather than a direct democracy. First, there are only about 220 million adults over 18 in America, or do you want to give millions of dollars to infants?

    220 million multiplied by one million is 220 trillion dollars. The U.S. government has never seen so much money, and it probably never will. However, some of your ideas of how to use the money are good.

    Where is the Video of "Last
    call for the Bush Administration"???

    I am disappointed!!

    Editor's note: That video is part of the introduction to the Expose segment. You can view it again here:

    Thanks for watching.

    Sidebar: I watched the Nocera clip (and a later item on gas line explosions) in context of something earlier on PBS, Lawrence Lessig on Charlie Rose.
    At some point Charlie startled and commented on how we shrug off bulllies.

    Yes ... well ... that's what I discovered as a young, well motivated (read: gung.ho) infantryman cum SigInt operative in Canada, when we over-threw the democratically elected government in Chile. (Or "helped" ... yaaa right.) Simply, "good folk" didn't want to hear.

    What I tweeted after the show was something like this: "Do you shrug off slopply airline practices? Did you shrug off school yard bullies? Will you shrug off corruption in municipal and state commissions?"

    One thing and one thing only will shackle President Obama: the unwillingness of citizens to stand up for themselves.

    thank you for your good work
    God's speed (from a Buddhist! heh)


    p.s. google "participatory deliberation"

    What if this is just another scare tactic created by Bush?

    There is far too much hidden from view, which seems to be their signature.

    In a macro view this tactic has broken many economies and it has made it harder for Russia to profit on energy. Or China to undersell world markets.

    Loss of confidence is the symptom not the cause, and, yes, we do have more to fear than fear, itself. Sheila Bair is a protege of Bob Dole, and surely one of the unsung heroes of this mess. She, fortunately, has three more years as FDIC chairman and five years left as a director. We've run out of credit, because we spent it all on houses, in just the way that all the dozens of such previous "panics," both British and American, have done. We are, in a simple phrase, "house poor." There's almost no more credit to be had, until we do some saving, no matter what the Fed says, or the govt attempts to spend. In the past a credit crisis such as we have could be fixed by having a Rothschild or Morgan pay gold into the central bank or Treasury, but gold is different from just printing money, and the equivalent today would have to come either from other more solvent countries buying up our money, from increased savings, or by taxation, which supports the public debt that is created when new money enters the economy. This is actually what the Fed and Treasury are doing. If, however, it is, itself, not supported by work, then the dollar depreciates, and the attempt can be considered an inflation tax. The real moral hazard is that by extending credit, it increases the need for more credit, which is essentially the same as the point made by Rieff and Lasch about the perverseness of the therapeutic. On the one hand, it is patronizing, and, on the other, it ia throwing money at problems, which has always been found to lead to decreased performance. This does not mean that we have to be mean, nor am I sure that Bush admin is making distinctions as subtle these. Indeed, if so, it would seem to be an about-face.

    Similar to the attempt to increase the value of mortgages by securitizing and insuring them, central banking tries to insure banks, which are allowed to lend many times more than their capital, by increasing the public debt, whenever they over-extend themselves. Rather than seeing tight credit as the result of too little return on investment, it was seen when the Fed was formed in 1913, and still is, as being too little money for the "needs of business." It was all bound up with the mvt to "rationalize" industry, the expansion of markets and the emergence of the US as the greatest creditor nation, seeking higher returns in less-developed countries. In this the US followed GB's course of a century earlier. At the time the world was still on the gold standard, which, while it did not in itself mean perfect stability, did ensure that a lot more attention was paid to loss of capital. Actually banned in 1934, ownership of gold has been legal since 1974, but the use of gold as money is still prohibited, because it would interfere with the Fed's control of the money supply, and the US abandoned the attempt to peg the value of money to gold in the inflation of the Vietnam War.

    This mode of thought and behavior is mercantilism, and was predominantly that of the Republican party, while that of competition and hard money is the free-trade position, and was the Democrats', who were additionally agrarian, and largely opposed to industrialization. It is fair to say these 19th and early 20th c positions are now largely reversed. Mercantilism is the one that deserves the name capitalism, not the other. And it is fair to say that it has strong tendencies, as Tocqueville foresaw, to authoritarianism or totalitarianism. As long as they benefit from the control of the money supply, mercantilism pays lip service to free trade.

    However, both govt spending and monetary creation, by slowly depreciating the dollar, has produced a large rise in the price of commodities, real estate and other currencies, and because of the dollar's dominance as the world's reserve currency it has meant that many other countries pay for our prodigality, even when it sometimes appears we are paying them. The US has gone from being the world's largest creditor, to the world's largest debtor, sustained only by the rest of the world's interest in supporting the dollar and our military, tho some would call it extortion. The effect of too cheap money, (i.e., money not based on savings), is at worst like an addiction, a temporary fix that only increases dissolution, and at best prevents ppl from growing up. With no reserve of savings, the more credit or money is increased, the more real economic growth is diverted into unproductive competition, and sunk into capital investments, which then has to be met with calls for more credit or money, in a vicious cycle. More than this, constantly increasing money means perpetuating scarcity and the social order that thrives on it, and postponing achievement of a more egalitarian society, which would certainly follow as plenty increases and prices diminish. The argument that competition provides necessary checks perpetuates a doctrine of survival of the least rational, and delays the development of really rational individuals. This has yet to sink into the world's financial elite, not to mention the average person, who tends to think like a bullionist, that more money is better.

    I think all the arguments I've heard about the auto industry are right, but the issue really is how to do the restructuring, because they are too important to be allowed to completely fail particularly at this time. Like the mortgages, it seems no one is willing to compromise. It can also be seen as a matter of intelligent relief, not much different from rebuilding bridges, water mains, etc. We do have to realize that much of the problem is not of their making, but a result of our monetary and fiscal policies, the very generous union agreements of the past, and the lack of govt leadership on fuel-efficiency. And it is not just hesitancy in buying new cars, but the value of American cars held by the public that will tank along with them, as well as some overseas sales, as for instance the Buick model in China. We do need to retain auto manufacturing here for its educational value. We cannot afford to lose more of our manufacturing base. But whether that means we need to have these particular cos is another matter. One could argue that foreign cos would still have to operate plants here regardless, but that is not necessarily the case, and if we become much poorer, the entire picture may change. The same with suppliers and dealers, though they now feed many mfrs, and dealers sell many diff brands. Then there is also the technology they own, which we would not want to lose. They are well-positioned to be future industry leaders in several "green" applications. The cos have, indeed, been slow to change, and are still imho caught in a time warp, but they aren't the cos they were in the 70's and 80's, as Cole said. While I don't know if mkt conditions will improve in time for them to pay back loans anytime soon, it seems to me a big burden would be lifted from their shoulders by other programs that the new admin is likely to introduce, such as healthcare and infrastructure projects, and also any environmental initiatives.

    Should the federal government attempt a bailout of homeowners not keeping up with their mortgages? Why or why not?

    If the federal government were to bail out homeowners who are defaulting on their mortgages, at least we know that the money is conclusively helping individuals. When you have a bailout that only helps the banks, what recourse do individual citizens have when banks restrict lending and use taxpayer money to enrich themselves?

    The federal reserve is a private consortium of 12 banks. This consortium sets our country's monetary policy. How much more undemocratic can it get than that?

    Why isn't our federal government responsible for monetary policy and why isn't our government responsible for banking in this country?? Why can't government set the interest rates that banks charge each other? Why must it be left to a consortium of private banks?

    If the American people had more say in this country's monetary policy, than there would be less predatory lending on the part of the banks.

    I believe money should be set aside to buy up the most toxic of mortgages that cannot be paid. Paulson injected 250 billion into the federal reserve, and what does the country have to show for it? Has credit opened up? Is lending less restrictive? Just the opposite. Lending and borrowing is harder than EVER! To buy a home one must be able to put down at least 20%! And how many Americans can afford to do that?

    # Would such a bailout create a “moral hazard” that condones and/or encourages irresponsible financial behavior?

    I don't believe it would cause or encourage irresponsible financial behavior because the government has already bailed out private banks to the tune of 250 billion and you could ask the same question to them! Banks engaged in predatory lending practices and they are now being rewarded for it. What does that say?

    Our financial crisis stems from personal greed. That greed is perpetuated by a monetary policy that is anti-democratic by its very nature. The federal reserve is a private consortium of banks who's first interest is to themselves and not to the American taxpayer.

    We need to do away with the federal reserve and create a new monetary policy that can be held accountable to the taxpayer.

    Why assume that the government has any interest in solving the financial crisis? That assumes that the American government cares about the American people. It doesn't. The government serves the banks, corporations, and elites. It could not care less about your mortgage.

    Irresponsible financial behavior? The very basis of our economic system is irresponsible. It guarantees poverty. It intentionally creates booms and busts.

    This discussion like virtually all of those by Bill Moyers misses the point. It only deals with the syptoms, not the cause.

    The Federal Reserve System must be abolished. Immediately. Without that, the economic crisis cannot be solved.

    The same is true of the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan. 9/11 was an inside job. Until we recognize that, the war on terror can be used to justify anything.

    In war time this nation once commissioned independent builders. We need to do this with auto, new energy resources, affordable and efficient housing, and health care. Meanwhile, the Bush administration still guts and loots the citizens for corporate monopolies. If we are going to recover from this crisis of monopoly capitalism - and the last attempts to prop it up, we need to trust once again that honest people can invent, produce, and market what these times call for. Given the crises, the Bush administration should not be allowed to continue on with their plunder. Enough is enough.

    Instead of the Federal Treasury ‘BAILING OUT’ Failing Banks and Financial Firms,
    Instead of giving “All” of our $700 Billion to Failing Banks and Financial Firms,
    Provide the 305+ million American taxpayers a “Bailout” of $1 million each.
    To turn this failing American economy around give a “Bailout Check” of $1 million to all Working and LAID OFF taxpaying American Citizens.
    Our “Bailout Check”, would help:
    1. American home owners that are behind in their mortgages should be able to negotiate
    with the bank and pay off their mortgages; those that have been foreclosed on should
    have the opportunity to repurchase their homes or purchase a new home from their

    2. The money could only be spent in the United States of America on American made
    Cars. (Ford, Chrysler and GMC) sell cars from $18,000 - $30,000 per car for 5 yrs.
    this would help the Auto Industry and put AMERICAN WORKERS back to work.
    ECO-friendly cars that are made will help Air pollution and Global Warming.
    The Big 3(Ford, Chrysler and GMC) can use the Taxpayer’s $25 Billions to Retool!
    3. Provide the Working and Nonworking families the opportunity to purchase their own
    HEALTH insurance, which the Big and Small Business Owners say is a burden on
    their profits.

    4. Consumers could invest in their children’s College plan, and Retirement plans
    5. Investments in Wall Street. Let Wall Street earn theirs the “Old fashion way”.
    6. Some TAXPAYERS can go on vacations only within America that would help the
    Airlines and Transportation

    7. ALL AMERICAN consumers can go shopping and help the American economy.

    “BAILING OUT” All Americans will ALSO help this economy.

    Mr. Nocera made the comment that he didn't understand what was happening to all the money given to AIG.

    My spin? Paulson was brought in to protect people. I wish I knew who those people are. It certainly isn't Joe The Plumber. His buddies on Wall Street structured AIG coverage for some of their bad deals. AIG gets a super bundle of bail out to make good on claims made for losses. Voila - friends covered. A good investigative reporter would be all over AIG's claims, payouts, and their origins. If you smell a rat - look for rat poop

    1. An aside: So members of Congress _probably_ aren't using private jets. But many are wealthy enough to do so and many take trips on the private jets of others. And the commercial jet will still be held for them; a regular passenger will still be bumped, so Sen. Superior can fly. They make quite sure that public money is spent so that they can avoid mixing with us.

    2. QUESTION: How many members of Congress benefited from the orgiastic Ponzi scheme of the past eight years? Are they any less sullied by the conflict of interest issues that contaminate Paulson and others about him. How much did Goldman Sachs donate to the Obama campaign?

    3. Banks may be scared. Or having received a fat publicly funded cushion, they may be sitting on the sidelines waiting to see how things shake out. Watch all the little ones (individuals and institutions), who are receiving no assistance, then move in like well-funded vultures to pick the carcasses clean.

    4. The Obama people seem smarter, more competent, and more honest than the Bush brigade. But so far they are neck-deep, participants in blind deregulation -- Emanuel, Summers, Geithner and others -- all advocates of deregulation at the expense of the commonweal.

    This all looks like an economic Vietnam, but worse.

    We are now seeing the results of the bailout of the rich - they reward themselves and forget the people who made them that way.

    You want our economy back on track? Bail out the people. The consumers who now refuse to buy because they see no reason to support Wall Street. It's too late for a lot of homeowners - what bailout will the ones who have already lost their homes be offered? What about renters who paid their rent on time but the owners had over-mortgaged the property in the name of buying more property for more profits?

    You want to stimulate the economy - better start convincing the working poor that they are important too - Not just the wealthy count.

    How about every person who earned under $150k and filed taxes last year get sent $10,000 - taxable? It will cost less than the Wall Street bail outs, put money back into the system, help boost taxes collected.

    Why under $150k? Because the money goes back into the economy to pay those mortgage payments, bills, buy the goods that are needed - not stuck in a savings account.

    Should we bail out ________(fill in the blank)?
    The answer is not yes or no.

    It depends on the specific plan, the details, which rarely get reported. Who, What, Where, When and How much.

    Politicians and pundits and 'those in the know' are fond of controversy, of framing questions in a do or die mode. Why? Because it brings them a platform to receive public attention, to acquire power. It's how they make their money and keep their jobs.

    Serious, objective, factual conversation on vital issues is practically absent in the public forum.

    We bash either labor or management, one or the other, all or nothing. In fact, anytime lots of money is sloshing around or power is up for grabs, there is plenty of abuse, graft, greed on both sides of the question.

    I want more detail in journalistic reporting, even if it puts most people to sleep. What is at stake is the viability of our democracy, not ratings and not advertising revenue!

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