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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Dean Marshall's letter [below] totally misunderstands the "corporatism" referred to by Mussolini. His regime never met a modern corporation, but only family and partnership setupos.

Corporatism, in fact, was a means by which the regime contgrolled companies, unions and all economic life. In the Nazi-Fascist model, very unlike the US, there were no independent firms for the political authorities to have to deal with.

The projected idea of a system in which the big corporations pressure the compliant government is actually the direct opposite of what the Fascists and Nazis practiced.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Sep 21 2008 - 1:29pm

Web Letter

Mr. Grieder writes: "If Wall Street is allowed to get away with this..." Like the super-hurricanes and other natural disasters we will inherit due to our selfish habits of consumption, it is not a question of "if" but "when."

John Giarratana

Jersey City, NJ

Sep 21 2008 - 12:22pm

Web Letter

It is not the government's job to do direct investments. That job belongs to the private sector.

Yet the government is investing in (bailing out) some old Wall Street companies that

a. have developed some complex new virtual products (complex derivatives) which have been soundly proven to be without merit,

b. have duped shareholders and customers with false claims about the products,

c. have inflated the books,

d. have benefited the top executives, and made them wealthy beyond comprehension,

e. have either been corrupt or proved totally incompetent.

The common principles that private investment companies use to find investment targets are now being violated in spades.

It is as if someone has determined that the targets are the exact opposite of what investment principles dictate. No private investor will touch them. So the big government, which is supposedly run by the people and for the people, has taken a very big government step that overturns the entire philosophy of capitalism, and nationalizes the financial system of the country.

The government can now legitimately claim that it is responsible for the running of the banks, just as it runs the defense, the army, the police and the fire departments.

Jay Banerjee

Nashua, NH

Sep 21 2008 - 8:52am

Web Letter

We are witnessing a national tragedy. While I hardly want to witness a Great Depression-style economic collapse in my lifetime, it may be the only way to encourage Americans to shed the partisanship and wipe the slate clean in Washington. We are so attached to the 24/7 sound bites of news that we cannot see two feet in front of our noses, and we sure as heck can't think for ourselves and the common good. The Beltway boys and girls have really done a sinful job over the last few decades to make sure that we made it to this point--that we could be more obsessed with which political persuasion is scoring the most points on a given day than with the actual truths needing to be sought in a time in our nation where the stakes could not be higher.

The true patriots have been watching these last few years unfold, and worrying greatly about our future; not only for own well-being, but our nation as a whole. We are the Democrats and Republicans and the in-between-ers who are armed with a vote and a voice and exercise them, yet we are defeated in knowing that it will be extremely cynical voters that carry the day and they will cast votes for the worst of two evils. It is those whom Washington favors to continue subverting the real issues of the day to carry on the power struggle and keep our tradition of forward thinking as blurry as ever.

Perhaps the only way to preserve America is to let her suffer a great failure. Washington is corrupted by elitism and egotism. Watching the walls of impunity melt away around them could be the last best hope for this nation.

Robert Weisenburn

Garner, NC

Sep 21 2008 - 8:47am

Web Letter

The bailout is ridiculous, and not needed, and only taxes future generations. (And both candidates want to increase govt spending?) NESARA as drafted by Dr. Barnard is the only way out of our fiscal and monetary mess. Force balanced budget, abolish income and capital taxes in favor of 14 percent sales tax on everything else except rents, groceries, insurance and medical services; new monetary tools to ensure 0 percent inflation; abolish compound interest on secured loans in favor of simple monetization fee, and require principals be paid before before banks are allowed to collect on the monetization fee. No payment no matter how small will always reduce a debt to zero, banks more willing to prevent foreclosures and will turn around funds for more loans sooner. No more of this pay for 2.5 houses just to own 1. Pay for just 1.5 and be done with it in seventeen years. NESARA (not the hoax, but Dr. Barnard's original version). Google the NESARA Institute.

Ryan Freedom

Denver, CO

Sep 21 2008 - 3:36am

Web Letter

Over a year ago, the investment bankers and government officials who "regulated" them saw this coming.

They deliberately decided to do nothing. They knew if things got bad enough, panic would set in and they could bamboozle the public into accepting the entire burden of their debt.

Once again, "Disaster Capitalism" worked its way. Just as the dropping of the Twin Towers resulted in a heinous war, the concentration of power in an all-powerful executive and the gratuitous abrogation of civil liberties, so the dropping of the "twin towers" of Lehman and FMFM has resulted in the shameless appropriation of public wealth by private greed.

These two conflagrations are the bookends of the Bush administration. One cannot help but wonder if both were deliberate.

Rey Buono

Jomtien, Thailand

Sep 20 2008 - 10:57pm

Web Letter

While I understand the horrible effects of not having a bailout, in the long run this seems the best option. The country seems bent on allowing corporations to own the government and avoid effective oversight and regulation. The only way that this can work out as the Republicans assert it should is if dishonest companies like those we are contemplating bailing out are allowed to fail.

If we do bail these scum out of their cesspools, then at the same time we must institute very strong and limiting regulations on their actions in the future. Then we need two more critical measures; first, all stock in the company bailed out is immediately worthless, ownership going to the US taxpayers until the solvent company can be sold responsibly, and all senior management is fired without any compensation. Second, all campaign contributions from the bailed-out company to any politician, PAC or political party over the last twenty years must immediately be tripled and the money given by the recipient to the US treasury.

As things stand, people who tried to rip us off are about to be saved by people who allowed them to try to rip us off. This is exactly why we need another party in this country--why a vote for a Den-o'rat or a Rapepublican is a vote against America and Democracy.

Carmi Turchick

Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Sep 20 2008 - 8:03pm

Web Letter

Excellent article. Now, Mr. Greider, please write a companion piece which is a brief but telling history of the scandals since the savings and loan bailout. Then turn that piece into a book.

James Mayhall

Lakeland , FL

Sep 20 2008 - 7:01pm

Web Letter

I don't understand one thing. Isn't the real problem that businessmen can usually count on bailouts if their businesses are big enough? That is why the S&L bailout was such a tremendous mistake. So now we have the very worst outcome: a "market" that does not reflect real risks. Greider's "solution" is no solution at all. He thinks government, which can (obviously) be manipulated by business, is now to have more direct control over markets.

Yes, he's right that Paulson's "solution" is no solution, but neither is his own.

And let's not suppose that the American public is an innocent bystander. After all, this public took advantage of a manipulated market in a perfectly rational way, assuming that the risks would be covered.

Wouldn't it be better if bailouts were ended once and for all, rather than creating ever-larger institutions that would protect sleazy business practices?

Sam Schwartz

Chicago, IL

Sep 20 2008 - 5:51pm

Web Letter

William Hague [below] comments: "The federal government should go to the source of the current problems, which is the subprime mortgage contracts themselves. Like money that enters into a local market, there is a multiplier effect for this debt because it can be used 'like money' and formed into new assets for expanded borrowing and investment."

While correct that subprime mortgage contracts are, at this time, the most cost-effective instruments to address to get out of this mess, Hague is a step short on the source of the current problems. We must look further, to the source of the drastic rise in offering subprime loans that preceded the real estate market boom and subsequent bust. The true source involved a perfect storm of legislation and policy-making from both parties in sync with the natural instinct of corporations to profit from poor legislation and policy.

Subprime loans are by definition risky loans given to individuals or corporations that don't meet traditional lending risk guidelines. Republicans, calling it "compassionate conservatism" and seeing value in an "ownership society," pushed legislation and policy that subsidized and encouraged risk taking. Bush's friends on Capital Hill and Wall Street hold much blame. Democrats were only too glad to join in, as the individuals receiving subprime loans were mainly members of their constituencies--whether by race or credit score. Obama's friends at ACORN, Fannie and Freddie all hold much blame as well. When Republicans and Democrats agreed on policy, legislation got passed, Fannie and Freddie grew, and Wall Street was given financial incentives to make loans that in hindsight were ridiculous. No credit, no problem? No credit, yet no money down? No proof of income? We trust you...

Blame "greed" of corportations all you want; without the government-led push to make money easy for subprime borrowers, we would simply not be in this mess. Senators and Congressmen do not understand business better than those who have risen through Wall Street, and should never succumb to ego and the belief that they do. They should get out of the way.

Now, William Greider and I agree that this bailout is likely a swindle of historic proportions. From that point of agreement, however, I could not disagree more with Mr. Greider's further writing. As stated above, it is government that is the true source of the mess we are in now. Greider's solution (predictably, as a writer for The Nation), is more government. Much more government. Complete takeover of the whole financial system. He states:

"Let me be clear. The scandal is not that government is acting. The scandal is that government is not acting forcefully enough--using its ultimate emergency powers to take full control of the financial system and impose order on banks, firms and markets."

Commenter Dean Marshall expresses concern of fascism as corporatism: a merger of state and corporate power. What Greider suggests as a "solution" is much closer to fascism, a bullying takeover of one of the largest segments of the economy to "impose order." Hasn't history proven the foolishness of this ideology enough times for Mr. Greider?

I run two businesses. I know how to budget, how to plan long term and short term, how to read my monthly balance sheets, how to adjust to changes in the market. The day my government feels the need to use its "ultimate emergency powers to take full control" of the businesses I have built, to "impose order," is the day I set sail for a country that has not fallen to Hell on socialism's good intentions.

Joel Van Dahm

Tempe, AZ

Sep 20 2008 - 5:44pm