IN the midst of the worse financial crisis arguably since (a) 1987 (b) 1973-74 (c) 1929, The US Senate has served up the quintessential "Pork Pie" and once again demonstrated they just can't resist loading up crucial legislation with perks for their pals. (For a great analysis, check out this post from our pals at Hoosier Access)
$193M (USD) for PR Rum? Hey, I like a cocktail just as much as the next guy - maybe more - but c'mon! Captain Morgan and ol' Ron Bacardi already have a corner on the Rum market. I know, "one man's pork is another man's project" and everybody earmarks, yeah, yeah ... just not in this kind of bill. Let's just have a clean bill with a responsible - market approach to stabilizing this thing.
Markets hate uncertainty. These traders are big Dudes (and Dudettes) and they can take bad news with the good. So let's give them the rules they need to play by and get the heck outta the way! Remember, the markets work because there is an equilibrium between Greed and Fear. The more you are willing to risk, the more you can gain - or lose. So let the losers lose, lick their wounds, then get back in the pit and fight their way out.
Changing Gears for Just a Moment:
This just popped into my mind. Let's just think for a minute about what happens when the USG takes over all these bad mortgages. Who's gonna manage all these properties? Whose going to fix the broken windows? Mow the grass? The mortgage holders are responsible, you know. Are we going to set up another bureaucracy? Will we create the National Real Estate Management and Disposal Administration? Does anybody think the USG can actually do this?
What about taking ownership stakes in private companies? Do we have some third tier appointees at Treasury sitting on the corporate boards? Does the USG get veto authority over the compensation committee? May I remind you, fellow taxpayers, that the Post Office is run by government bureaucrats. Anyone care to take a stab at the last time they turned a profit? (So much for the taxpayer making money on this deal.)
Back on Message:
So these freakin' Senators lard up this bailout - which, come to think of it, shouldn't be a news flash - almost as shamelessly as they turned every bloody personal pet project into a "National Security Priority" after 9-11-01.
Then, they get everybody going on TV and screaming "the world as we know it will come to an end" if we don't pass this "crap sandwich" by Midnight! If the bill was so bad the first time, what makes it less bad now? It's the same friggin' bill except now they have provisions for mental health insurance parity, an AMT patch, and all that pork. Hey look, I'm willing to argue that some or all of these things may or may not be good things. They deserve to be debated and voted on ... maybe ... but not in this bill! In fact, I don't even think this is a good bill. There is nothing in here but a taxpayer funded government takeover of the credit/commercial paper markets ... and all that pork.
In the end:
Bad News: Do we lose some value in our 401(k)'s? Likely. Will we lose some jobs? Yep. Will the really rich guys still be really rich? Count on it.
Good News: Gas is getting cheaper because oil is falling below 90/bbl. which means that Chavez and the Arabs are losing their shirts. See, there's a silver lining in every cloud.
In closing, I find myself asking "Where are all the limited government, free-market conservatives?" I see all these pols on TV saying things like, "I'm a free-market conservative, and I just hate this thing, but ..." But what? You either believe in these principles or you don't Senators. Stand for something and think about the next generation instead of the next election ... or your next fix, you pantie wastes.
THIS JUST IN ... (UPDATED 3:31pm EST) from the LA Times: "The bill wending its way through Congress would provide tax breaks worth more than $470 million over the next decade for movie and TV producers that shoot in the U.S."
Folks, that's $47M (USD)/year to shoot TV in the USA. Well, color me stupid, don't they do most of that here anyway? Gawd, it just keeps getting "worser and worser" as time goes by. These guys really are worse than crack whores - and that's almost insulting to the crack whores. Does anyone still wonder why these guys have a 15% approval rating?