Nationalization! The dreaded “N” word is on all lips except the President’s. Has the former “most liberal member of the senate” been mesmerized by the soothing, soporific cadences of Gov. Bobby Jindal?
I think not. After all he has introduced a stimulus the like of which could raise FDR from the dead, while I hear that his health insurance plan has Speaker Pelosi hoisting her skirts and dancing the Tarantella. The only fly in the ointment is that he continues to treat a growing number of zombie banks as though his communion penny was deposited amongst them.
As long as the financial system of the country totters on a foundation of “toxic assets,” President Obama, Treasury Secretary Geithner and Lawrence Summers, can huff and puff ‘til the cows come home but they will not return the US to economic normality. Then again, as Bob Dylan once pointed out, “I don’t know what normal is anymore.” After the recent economic shellacking who does? Makes you almost long for good old Dubya voodoo economics when the war in Iraq was fought without costing the country a dime.
President Obama’s dithering is indeed puzzling. He seems to have so much else right. Spend your way out of the approaching deflation, break the stranglehold of petro-dictators, and provide a sane national health system so that when jobs eventually begin trickling back employers wont have to shoulder prohibitively expensive health insurance.
It’s staggering that the President still listens to his Treasury Secretary, the same gentleman who barely raised a whimper at the New York Fed during the worst Wall Street excesses. At least, Mr. Geithner appears to be banned from spouting anemic daytime prognostications for fear the Dow will keel over and slide into the Hudson.
As for Lawrence Summers - all I ever hear is just how smart he is. Well, he wasn’t so smart when he endorsed deregulation back during his own treasury reign; while his views on women’s aptitude for mathematics when President of Harvard were hardly those of a considered thinker. Even had he been correct in his Archie Bunker musings, he was either too arrogant or unaware to muzzle himself. Show me the home where a woman hasn’t the best handle on mathematics, practical or theoretical; and point out the lady who would allow banks to keep their tainted assets on the books at some fairytale price rather than at market value.
President Obama is throwing good money after bad into the black holes that are Citigroup, Bank of America and AIG. Better send in the shock troops now and find out if these institutions are, as suspected, basically insolvent. Short-term nationalization – or whatever genteel term you’d prefer - won’t be pretty but eventually a credible financial floor will be established, thereby encouraging the private sector to invest in and reclaim these failed banks again.
The real fear is that neither the vast sums needed nor the public’s goodwill will still be on tap unless the problem is faced immediately. Governor Jindal is already taking rehabilitation classes at the Sarah Palin School of Economics, and Newt Gingrich waits in the wings ready to resurrect the Reagan deregulatory revolution.
Try not to get sidetracked by all the hot air about clamping down on the bonuses of Wall Street executives. Those billions are mere drops in the bucket compared to the trillions that our masters of the universe have gambled – and lost - on securitized mortgages. We’ve had all the smokescreens and Band-Aid economics we can handle. How about a dose of reality for a change?
Anyway, enough doom and gloom! I for one am hedging my bets. I have applied for a shovel-ready stimulus grant and plan to start an all-ages retirement community up in E. Durham. We’ll do yoga in the morning, drink dollar beers in the Blackthorn all afternoon while watching the Mets sweep to the World Series. And, in a masterstroke of synergistic marketing, I have approached both Guinness and Viagra to donate a pint and a pill for each member’s nightcap. As the subway driver said, “they’ll never know what hit them!”
I will be accepting applicants at BB Kings on March 17th. All those who oppose nationalization will receive preference. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!