Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I've been a huge supporter of Senator Obama. I've given as much time and money to the campaign as I can. I truly believe that Senator Obama "gets it"--he understands that you can't have a vibrant and growing economy without a strong middle class.

That's why I've been so troubled by Mr. Obama's support of the bailout plan, even with the safeguards he has fought for. The underlying principle of this deal still rewards risky behavior, and puts the hope that liquidity will find its way to small business in the hands of Wall Street. In a way, I feel this is trickle-down credit, and it won't work.

I'd really like to see Mr. Obama take greater ownership of this issue and substitute his economic plan for this rescue package. If liquidity is needed at the small-business level, then lets expand the SBA, a program that we know works. Let's buy the foreclosed homes on the market, and rent them to people under a "rent to own" plan that rewards good payment behavior. Let's give these homes to qualified teachers who teach in troubled neighborhoods (where a lot of these homes are!). And if a few more big banks fail, we can seize them as we have the other recent bank failures.

We need a more grassroots approach to this financial crisis than the one being offered. If Senator Obama can tap into the angst and frustration felt by so many (Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike) and offer a truly unique vision of a rescue plan, I firmly believe this election will be his.

Dan Kusel

Denver, CO

Sep 30 2008 - 5:28pm

Web Letter

I have some childhood memories of the Great Depression. My dad dropped out of college in order to save his dad's factory; he bartered service as the factory foreman for room and board for two years. He also served in the CCC and was on an audit team for the McKesson Robbins affair. By the way, the factory made straw skimmers and other hats during the '30s and millions of overseas caps for the military during WWII.

Barack Obama is the person most qualified to lead the comeback from today's morass. However, he is no FDR. FDR was the governor of New York, and secretary or undersecretary of the Navy. He came from a leading family of American service. I sat on the floor under the radio as a child and I still get goosebumps when I hear his inspiring and confidence-building talks. I was 12 in 1945, and on the day FDR died, I had a major fistfight with a neighbor's son.

I am a retired executive who for twenty-two years helped liquidate foreclosed properties between 1983 and 2005. Staff reporting to me sold over 15,000 of such properties all over the country. Today's crunch is much more severe, due to its nationwide scope. I know what to do, and hope to help in the real estate market"s recovery and aid for legitimately needing borrowers, as opposed to those gaming the system.

The point I want to make today is that there will be many attempting to take advantage of the situation by "helping" mortgage holders solve their problems.The government and surviving financial institutions must exercise prudence and restraint with the disposition process. Stake holders must hold back sales until staffing has been hired to adequately evaluate risks on a property-by-property basis.

"Dumping" must not occur. Loan workouts must be increased. There has always been more talk about workouts than action.

Book value of each asset is known, and holding costs can be predicted with confidence. Therefore, losses (and gains) can be calculated against the valuations to be obtained in the future. (The arguments about "mark to market" are a detour. MTM is just a question of whether losses should be taken in the current period or when each asset is sold.) Only when adequate staffing, good procedures and sound asset valuations exist will owners of distressed assets be able to operate in the marketplace with the best interests of the people held first and foremost.

David E. Posley

Calabasas, CA

Sep 30 2008 - 4:56pm

Web Letter

The suggestion of The Nation that something called "bailout money" be spent on gifts for the American public is like the antiwar Barbara Boxer's saying, during a break in the Petraeus hearings, that she saw no reason why Iraq (the victim) couldn't spend its oil revenues to pay for the war (the investigation of the crime/cost of the trial). It's as though The Nation is lobbying for the rights of one particular rapist to sell the story of his crime (the way it is, from his perspective) to an outsider--and with The Nation's not happening to mention that the outsider is The Nation.

The media are wrong (or not right enough) when they liken the bailout to the Iraq war or to the Patriot Act. What vanden Heuvel and Schlosser suggest we do is exactly what Bush did on the first business day after 9/11/01 and when he couldn't have possessed evidence saying that other suicide attacks, a million times worse, weren't planned against us here at home: he awarded to an essentially unscathed airline industry a humongous wad of cash.

Anything that smacks of regulation--and especially anything accompanied by a huge wad of cash--will all but force the recipient (Wall Streeter or a member of the American public) to lobby for deregulation while searching for other, even more rewarding, ways to screw somebody.

Cameron Jones

Indiana, PA

Sep 30 2008 - 11:11am

Web Letter

The country has to embark on an innovation revolution to rebuild the competitive infrastructure of this nation by building a new green-based economy and leading the world in addressing our fossil fuel addiction. By doing this we can address our energy fiscal responsibilities and start to correct the root of our major deficit and over-extended economy. It will also allow us to put Americans back to work building things. It will valve off the major source of terrorism funding and create a new green-collar economy that will propel us through the twenty-first century.

This bailout is necessary, but it should be done responsibly by addressing the needs of our working citizens as the primary fix, and they in turn will return with confidence to the market's new upside.

The Swedish example of government assistance at a cost of requiring those that need it to allow the taxpayers to benefit from it, along with throwing a responsible solution to those that can afford their new right-sized mortgages would do much to restore belief in the financial system and our special-interest political system.

This perfect storm was bought and paid for by the new robber barons of our day, and they will have to take the pain of their poor decisions. This should not be just another get more money for their government-backed Ponzi schemes.

Don Holbrook

Lake Havasu City, AZ

Sep 30 2008 - 9:17am

Web Letter

Of course what we need is the Scandinavian Plan: bank holiday, audits, liquidation of insolvencies, recapitalization of good banks. This is based on FDRs Bank Holiday Plan. This would reward CEOs of failed institutions with... the door.

For a real take on a great bailout and plan to go forward on the economy here's your article, see "Financial Bailout: Thanks but No Thanks - What Lincoln would have said," by Ellen Brown. The solution you'll never see in the corporate media.

Michael McKinlay

Hercules, CA

Sep 29 2008 - 4:02pm

Web Letter

It's not bad enough yet. We need to get to the point--as it was in FDR's time--where only massive public spending will save us.

Then we may have universal healthcare, poverty relief, research and development in renewable energy etc. I strongly doubt that a shoot-the-moon progressive wish list would total $700 billion, and its effects would truly be quantifiable.

Will it take another bailout? Foreign takeover of more major institutions? Physical attack by another country?

I fear not for myself but for my children and grandchildren.

Kathy Gustafson

Brookings, SD

Sep 29 2008 - 1:46pm

Web Letter

In this article you state that "Sen. Hillary Clinton called for a revival of the Home Owner's Loan Corporation (HOLC)." In an effort to learn more about the HOLC, I found that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill) issued a press release on January 23, 2008, titled "Kirk: Reestablish the Hone Owners' Loan Corporation." In the press release, he discusses the crisis caused by outstanding subprime mortgage loans and then explains why something like the HOLC could "provide stability to a volatile market and help lower-income borrowers stay in their homes." I'm not familiar at all with Congressman Kirk, and maybe that is why no one in the media or DC bothered to look at his ideas, which are the same as what Senator Clinton is now suggesting. This problem has been brewing for years and it is just now getting real attention and action. Maybe more people should have been listening to Congressman Kirk.

Edith A. Keenan

Lake Stevens, WA

Sep 27 2008 - 10:17pm