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“Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” –Margo Channing (Bette Davis) in All About Eve.
Bumpy is no word for it. The news coming out of Wall Street makes what the three presidential candidates are saying beside the point. Cancel the fun. The bad news also bids fair to change the daily lives of 300 million Americans. No, kidding, folks. What’s going on in the business world is as serious as it can get.
Events unfolding this week on the lower end of Manhattan will cancel out all the projects John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been talking about. McCain will have to deal with the home truth that, though he may dig up enough soldier boys for the Middle Eastern wars, there is no money to pay for them. And thanks to the ever-shrinking dollar, other countries are not going to lend us more money to carry them on. We have run out of money: it’s time to cut and run.
The billions that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would have had to spend to do the wonderful things they are dangling in front of the voters do not exist. Tradition has always allowed campaigning candidates to make promises they will not make good on, but this time they are bumping up against the limits of the plausible, let alone the possible. It might be helpful if they would ease off with the pretty pictures.
There will be no health insurance for everyone. No long-needed increases in teachers’ salaries, no big infrastructure projects, no decent-paying new jobs for those laid-off workers in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and nothing for single-parent (read mothers) households. There is no money. As things stand now we may have to spend hundreds of billions to prevent millions of people from being thrown out of their homes and billions more to prop our crooked, avaricious, heedless and duplicitous financial system so it does not come crashing down on all of us.
Just a couple of days ago the Federal Reserve Board committed a mere $200 billion to Wall Street to back up their rotten bonds. The news of that expensive move had hardly been digested when it was announced that the Fed would pledge untold billions more to keep the investment banking house of Bear Stearns from sinking with all hands aboard.
The floatation device was a hastily arrange purchase of the once prestigious, 85-year-old investment bank by J.P. Morgan for $2 a share, which a little more than a year ago was selling for $170 and as recently as a couple of days ago for $30. God only knows how much this will cost the government by the time the expensive, gory details are ironed out, something that will take months.