Thoughtful people have warned of approaching economic disaster for some time, and these thinkers included professional economists. Paul Krugman quickly comes to mind. Editorialists who regularly mocked Krugman's writings have grown quiet lately.
But you really didn't need advanced degrees in economics to see the present mess coming. All that was required was some understanding of human nature, specifically the nature of the right-wing financiers who apply great influence to American government. Greed drives them; moderation is repugnant. When deregulation became official government policy, when the upscale operators were no longer restrained by statutes or security guards, it was inevitable they would gorge themselves sick. They regard the American public as a dog regards a garbage can. They must be called off; they never quit voluntarily.
It appears the average American taxpayer will now be stuck with billions of dollars in bad debts incurred by private companies seeking private profits. This seems hardly fair, but putative experts say it must be done to keep errant financial institutions from collapse. Failure of the institutions would worsen an already desperate situation, we're told.
Bail if we must, but any bailout has to include re-regulation, a revival of the philosophy of restraint that existed until people like Phil Gramm persuaded Congress that corporations can always be trusted. We know better now. As Rep. Barney Frank says, private enterprise run amuck has brought us to the brink of collapse; only government can save us.
One of the things government must do is lessen the financial rewards to unscrupulous and incompetent CEOs. It's unconscionable that they grow rich from their sins and mistakes while the people suffer. If the government (that is, the taxpayers) is going to pay to save these bedraggled companies, the government (that is, we) gets to make the rules.
Gramm, who calls terrified middle-class Americans “whiners,” is John McCain's principal economic adviser. McCain himself has strongly supported the Bush policies that threaten to bring on another Great Depression. He offers nothing substantive in the way of change, nothing to save the little guy. Rescue is for the rich.
McCain's continuing support for the fearfully wrongheaded economic course set by a Republican administration should alone disqualify him from being president, not that there aren't other reasons to vote against him. His party, his advisers, and he personally are responsible for this debacle, and he says he'll keep going in the same direction. Such open unconcern for the people he seeks to lead is unprecedented.