Saturday, October 4, 2008

Some good reading: Stu's letter to the Editor regarding the Bailout

Stu send this via Email and I saw it wasn't on his blog. I figured it aught to be on someone's blog, for crissakes. The Times sure as hell won't be printing it.


To the editors of the New York Times:

When I saw that the New York Times had posted the text of the economic
bailout bill (H.R. 1424) I decided to attempt to read the bill.

While I have not yet read the entire 451 pages, my first scan of the text
turned up several surprising sections:

Sec. 402
. Permanent authority for disclosure of information relating to
terrorist activities

Sec. 502. Provisions related to film and television productions.

Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.

Sec. 504. Income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation.

These sections are disturbing to me in a number of ways. Among them:

* How can a there be time to insert unrelated (and, in the case of
section 503 (e..g.), frivolous) provisions into a bill of such purported
importance and urgency?

* Is our Congress truly incapable of passing legislation which is not
treated as a vehicle for pork barrel politics?

* Section 402 leads me to wonder how deeply the administration's war
on terror has insinuated itself into unrelated legislation, and how broad
and deeply the powers and provisions of that effort are intertwined in our

I also wonder where the free press is in this debate. It seems to me that
more attention should be given to informing the public regarding the actual
provisions of this legislation and less to the political posturing of the
various parties involved in drafting and passing the bill.

This bill, and the economic crisis that it is intended to address, have
further eroded my already shaky confidence in our elected officials. The
partisan and ideological wrangling surrounding the effort demonstrates that
those officials are concerned first and foremost about political power.

In addition, the complete lack of accountability on the part of those
officials is disingenuous and self-serving. This crisis has its roots in the
anti-government sentiments that became entrenched during the Reagan
presidency and continue until today. Neither party can claim innocence, as
both parties have held the presidency, majorities in Congress, or both
during this period, yet neither was vigilant in putting in place the
regulatory boundaries that could have prevented the current situation.

I am again left to wonder whether our elected officials are concerned
primarily with the interests of the citizens who elect them or the special
interests that fund them. Again, neither party is faultless; most special
interests, including the financial sector, are careful to spread their
monetary and political support between both parties in order to ensure that
their interests are considered and protected regardless of the party
currently in power.

My wife and I are in out mid fifties. We are seeing the value of the
investments - investments funds, 401k, IRAs, and our home - that we worked
for in order to secure our retirement decline sharply, and while we wonder
whether the value of those assets will recover so that they are sufficiently
for their intended purpose.

I am distressed to discover that our elected officials have, in many ways,
treated this bill as politics as usual, all the while giving lip service to
its importance and calling attention to what they would have us believe is
their concern for the American taxpayer.

I am distressed that the press has neither provided us with information to
help the public better understand this crisis nor alerted us to the facts
and details of the legislation as proposed and passed.

I note with pride and satisfaction that one of the Senators from our home
state of Washington, Maria Cantwell, opposed this bill. I note with distress
that the other, Patty Murray, supported it.

I also note that both presidential candidates supported the bill, and wonder
the extent to which that support was decided upon based on the political
risks and benefits to their campaigns, as opposed to the content of the

Finally, I wonder who, if anyone, will benefit from the bill as written, or,
if benefit does accrue, whether it will extend beyond the politicians'
backers in the financial industry.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mr. B. for posting Stu's very fine letter. He is right on of course. Perhaps it could be sent to some of the NYT blogs. Or maybe there could be a campaign to ask some of these questions until the Times makes a response. J in VA

Anonymous said...

Good letter, Stu. Recent events make for disturbing news as our lifetime savings, too, dwindles. The Watergate maxim of 'follow the money' seems worthwhile, but who and where would they start if they're not already paid off not to bother. Socrates is probably right that democracy is too unstable a political program to last very long. argh.

And what about those wooden arrows? to say nothing of permanent non-disclosure of appointed officials' terrorist-related plans? oivay. va momma