Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Do You Believe?

Please, make no mistake about this. When Republicans, including John McCain, tell us that what we are experiencing right now economically is a "crisis of confidence" (and you'll be hearing that expression over and over in the next few weeks), what they're telling us is that, by being afraid of what Alan Greenspan called a "once-in-a-century kind of event" in the collapse of Lehman and the Merrill-Lynch takeover by BofA, everything that's happened in the past few days is all our fault.

Eight years of an unchecked steamroller move to deregulation and the elimination of any government oversight whatsoever in the banking, mortgage lending and investment industries, the black hole of billions of dollars to fight a war we can't afford and many of us never ever wanted, the arrogant, greedy practices of CEOs and Fortune 500 corporations who gave their top executives golden parachutes and billion-dollar pay packages at the expense of shareholders, all while the Senate Commerce Committee (of which John McCain was chairman until January 2007) looked the other way -- none of these things are the cause of the staggering losses suffered on Wall Street in the past 72 hours. The economy is fundamentally sound. The policies were good ones (and, if they weren't, the Republicans never saw them, never heard of them, and don't know what we're talking about.)

If this were really an economic crisis, they might be to blame. But it's not. This is simply a "crisis of confidence," so it's clear who's to blame here. We are to blame.

If we had only continued to have faith in a stock market that, much as in the late 1920s, was built mostly on futures speculations and derivatives (in other words, the purchase of something that, technically, does not exist and therefore has no intrinsic value), if we had only continued to believe that our leaders knew what they were doing with our economy as we and our neighbors and our family members lost jobs and homes, if we had simply stood resolute in the face of astronomical fuel prices and out-of-control inflation, then the American economy would have remained "fundamentally strong." But we didn't. We lost faith. We had a "crisis of confidence." And because we stopped believing in the economy, it died.

The U.S. economy is now... officially... Tinkerbell.


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