Tell Congress: We Demand Equity

Dear Fools:

We need your help.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has put together a plan that is actively under debate and allows the Treasury to invest in assets that are crushing bank balance sheets. We view this plan as being an important step in allowing the global financial system to recapitalize itself. We agree with financial intellectual titans Warren Buffett and Bill Gross, as well as both presidential candidates, that the Paulson Plan needs to be passed and will benefit Main Street.

We believe that if the Paulson Plan is done correctly, American taxpayers will profit not only from the return of lending capacity to our banks, but also from these troubled investments. However, the plan should embrace the tenets of free-market capitalism. The government should demand equity stakes in the banks.

We think taxpayers deserve to benefit from a deal soundly rooted in free-market principles. We, the undersigned, encourage you to call the people who represent you in the House and Senate and demand that the approved deal include provisions for equity ownership. Go to www.house.gov and www.senate.gov to find the phone numbers for your elected representatives.

Finally, even though these are extraordinary times, we stand by our belief that the best way to build long-term wealth is through equity ownership. Just look at who is doing a lot of the buying of late -- Warren Buffett.

We encourage you to take a few minutes -- now! -- to call your elected officials and let them know that there needs to be an equity component for taxpayers.

Onward,

Tom Gardner, CEO and Co-Founder, The Motley Fool
Scott Schedler, President, The Motley Fool
Bill Mann, Senior Advisor, Motley Fool Hidden Gems, Pay Dirt, and Global Gains

P.S. We have opened a discussion board where Fools can gather to talk about this important issue. Please come and share your opinions.


Read/Post Comments (45) | Recommend This Article (75)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 2:16 PM, KWT8011 wrote:

    too bad my senator is currently too busy running for VP to take my phone call..

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 2:55 PM, tj66 wrote:

    Hmm, Government ownership is now a tenet of free market capitalism. Surely The End is near. We may need this plan badly an soon, but to redefine increased Government regulation and Government ownership as anything other than fascism and socialism to make it happen seems both dishonest and dangerous.

    If an ownership stake is taken, the bill should include provisions for the Government to liquidate that stake as soon as feasible. In addition any new regulation should be just that: new. Repeal existing regulation and replace it.

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 3:32 PM, saunafool wrote:

    I don't think it's socialism or fascism when an investor demands equity in exchange for their monetary investment. In this case, the investor is the government, and I don't like it any better than you do. However...

    It is certainly better than the alternative that Paulson proposed, which was to just hand out the money and get nothing but a bunch of worthless paper in return.

    (And I'm not interested in hearing from gold bugs saying that money is just worthless paper too.)

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 5:16 PM, burneb43 wrote:

    So let's say the Feds do take equity in the bailed-out companies, in order for potential future profits to compensate for the risky investment of taxpayer dollars.

    If and when such bailee companies do start making profits again, Republicans will howl that they shouldn't compete with the Great God Private Industry, and these companies must be sold. They will be sold off to well-connected private interests for much less than their new worth, and the taxpayers will never see much return for their risky investment.

    Apparently government is only supposed to do things that lose money, so we rig the laws to see that it does. Then we hear how government just can't do things as well as private companies.

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 5:25 PM, TheDash9 wrote:

    The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bs. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no Net Worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I've still got a lot to teach you. –Gordon Gekko

    http://www.molifeney.com/content/view/106/60/

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 5:45 PM, pytheian wrote:

    From someone who knows what they're talking about:

    "2. "Taxpayers will be better off if Treasury gets warrants."

    This is essentially the assertion made in David Leonhart's column in the NY Times on Wednesday. And it again illustrates that we would all be better off if high schools taught the Modigliani-Miller theorem. MM implies that the price of the asset (again,assuming the auction gets it right) will adjust to offset the value of any warrants Treasury receives. In this case of a reverse auction, imagine that the price is set at $10. If Treasury instead demands a warrant for future gains of some sort, then the price will rise in the expected amount of the warrant -- say that's $2. Then the price Treasury pays for the asset will be $12. Some people might prefer to get $12 in cash and give up a warrant worth $2 in expected value. Fine, that's a choice to be made. But the assertion that somehow warrants are needed is simply wrong."

    http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2008/09/defense-of-paulson-pl...

    If certain banks or other entities still fail after the reverse auction, and they pose a systemic risk, then the govt should just nationalize them, and take 100% of the equity (existing equity and debtholders don't lose anything when liabilities exceed assets for forseeable future; hopefully the one entity that can sit and wait - the government - can make some money by doing just that).

    More here: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/modigliani-millertheorem...

    Government ownership of the means of production, distribution, and finance are the tenets of socialism, not the free market.

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 7:12 PM, limeonaire wrote:

    So... you know that $700 billion number that everyone's been bandying about? Yeah, the Washington Post is reporting that the Treasury literally just made it up. Poof, out of thin air. The WaPo also noted that Paulson is leaving office in four months. So... we're going to approve something that gives a $700 billion mandate to someone wholly unknown!?

    Need more details, guys. This post/email today is very vague, and I personally am not going to be calling any congressmen until some things are clarified about what this "plan" might actually entail.

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 9:30 PM, burnedup2 wrote:

    Misters Gardner, Schedler, and Mann,

    Gentlemen,

    I vehemently challenge the recommendation you have made to your readers in support of the biggest boondoggle committed against the American people in modern history.

    Let's call it what it is, the 700 Billion dollar last dip in the cookie jar. Where is your "faith" that the free market will self correct, when in fact, it already has.

    The financial firms are making their own deals, finding their own solutions and solving their own liquidity problem and TAKING THE HITS.

    Those that can't buck up, deserve to fail. HEY, those are the rules of the game, for the player and those who "bet" on stock. More than one person of consequence has refered to Wall Street as "The Casino".

    So what's left to fix, the credit market? SLOW DOWN. The "never use your own money credit model of business" is the exact problem.

    Our whole country is ridiculously undercapitalized and overextended, wall street, the government, the taxpayers.

    And this sad state of affairs is new in our history, we used to buy things when we could pay for them, not before.

    The Credit market and the mentality that sustains it needs serious adjustment, constant oversight and enforced regulation.

    Why does McDonald's need credit? No, really? They should be paying their way with their considerable liquid assets.

    In fact, the big boys who can pay their way don't, crowding out all the rest who should be competing with "appropriate qualifications" for what should be a limited resource: FUNDING AKA CREDIT.

    Money and Gas, as the world is learning, are not limitless resources.

    We are still a nation of laws and rules. There must be accountability and consequences to those who egregiously violate the public trust.

    The current administration does not acknowledge fault or accept that this debacle occurred on their watch under their stewardship.

    I will not agree to reward disastrous greed with a hand out, a free pass on accountability and an attaboy. The Fox is guarding the Hen House, what do you expect?

    No one is looking our for the stockholders or the taxpayers under this scenario.

    Where are the consequences to 8 years of greed, lawlessness and sickening abuse of power?

    Before you back the handout proposal, run up on the rubber stamp express by the folks that brought us to the brink of disaster, by their own admission,

    consider if there will be safeguards enforced to protect your future opportunities.

    This is not the end of the world, doom and gloom crisis that the office of the President has tried to sell to the American people with the usual fear and intimidation tactics.

    I won't be a fooled again, why would you perpetuate the illusion of a fix from a specious bailout?

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 10:17 PM, paulmaz wrote:

    Why didn't David sign the letter?? Does he not agree with you Tom?

  • Report this Comment On September 25, 2008, at 10:53 PM, TheGarcipian wrote:

    Tom & Bill,

    I highly respect you both, and have followed you for years, through Hidden Gems, Rule Breakers, and back to the days of 1995 and Tom's/David's first online portfolio. Honestly, I don't know if giving these people money is going to help us out in the end. But I do know that we should not give it without strings attached. I am glad to see that cool heads have prevailed and that the Democrats did not rubber stamp the first Paulson plan (no questions asked & no restrictions? -- that's ridiculous). Borrowers don't dictate the terms of a loan.

    However, has anyone considered what this fellow Denninger has to say?

    http://www.denninger.net/letters/paulson-bernanke-senate.pdf

    Essentially, the problem is not all about liquidity, but it's one of trust. People in the credit markets are afraid to trust one another because no one knows what the value of these assets really are. Thus, the credit market dries up. Simply adding more liquidity to an already bloated system will not do much good, no more than it's done over the past year since Helicopter Ben has been dropping interest rates like hot steel.

    Does Denninger's proposals, specifically those on page 4 of that PDF, have any merit?

    Cheers,

    --Gar

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:05 AM, SRVENK wrote:

    Removing all bad loans from all banks and assuming them will just shore up the bonds and dollar in the short term. Meanwhile, unless economic growth picks up, and this bitter memory is erased, people in general will not jump to buy new houses, cars or any big things. Unless that happens, the next party will not be in full swing. (The old party has ended, the music has stopped.)

    It is difficult to envision that good times are ahead, but first everyone has to be fully tired of this pessimism before optimism will return.

    None knows for sure if this plan will work. But planning is essential, and it is a great time to watch the system actually work to resolve its problems.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:14 AM, edsr01 wrote:

    Why does Paulson has anything to do with the structure of a recovery. Isn't he part of the problem? And now he has a chance to do it again?? Unthinkable!!

    I don't understand. Somebody help me, please!

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:35 AM, SRVENK wrote:

    Any potential solution I hope would do the following:

    1. Let people live and have the houses they bought, and be liable for the original principal at the least.

    2. Adjust All ARMs so that they retain the teaser interest rate for the life of the loan (30 to 40 years). Let corresponding bonds drop in value.

    3. Eliminate origination fees, and force all originations to happen from the government. A tremendous amount of money is being made by the banks in refinancing the loans. All those fees should be looked into, and eliminated.

    4. Establish asset valuation standards. If they can banish bears from the stock market, why not from the real estate market? Just legislate the minimum price of the properties to their 2006 value, and make it illegal for anybody to value it for less.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 5:36 AM, Amerikakers wrote:

    From Capitalism to Kaput-alism

    S.I. Fishgal wrote in "KOSHER HOOKS":

    "Amerikakers are fabulously rich, awfully wasteful and corrupt... (In case that Russian, Yiddish or German languages are not your forte, kaka and kaker mean feces and its appropriate derivative.)

    ... They believe to and cram all, but understand zilch. The gross incompetence, unabated consumerism and keeping up appearances indebt their offspring and enrich their enemies. Amerikakers don't own their useless stuff. It owns them, but is not loaded on a hearse anymore. They are above Marx’s and Lenin’s teaching that the rampant greed, deceit, consumerism and currency debasing ruin the country, be it Rome, Russia, Germany or the American Empire of debt and village idiots turning capitalism to kaput-alism. During the American Revolution, the troops lined worthless bills called shinplasters in the knee-length boots. It was quite liberating not to keep up appearances. Amerikakers turn the capitalist country to the capital-less one. They vote for the like corrupted nobodies, bigots, cranks, hustlers and pulpit artists franchising race or faith talk into a fat living and a political career.”

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 9:09 AM, vest0r2 wrote:

    It is extremely disappointing that BOTH Presidential candidates support this insane boondoggle.

    How much difference is there between them? Not enough, I'd say.

    NO BAILOUT. NO WAY. Let the sh1t hit the fan. You built the house of cards, enjoy its collapse.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 11:18 AM, lydia352 wrote:

    I have my investments here and until today have trusted your thoughts and opinions.Reconsidering. As a small business owner, I rise and fall by my own merit. No one here to bail me out. No bail out! let the American system of less government control do it's work. No.. to Socialist Goverment control.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 11:26 AM, irvhomer wrote:

    Very foolish… with a small f.

    You should add a condemn link along with the recommend voting option. I would really like to see some statistics on what the Fool community thinks of your request.

    I already called and have written to my representatives yesterday telling them NOT to approve this bailout. I also asked them to tell me how much money they’ve accepted from Fannie and Freddie lobbyists over their tenure.

    I would be willing to eat nothing but beans and rice for a year instead of allowing the largest government intervention in free markets since the new deal.

    Tom, by asking us to support the Paulson plan, aren’t you effectively asking us to give Henry Paulson unprecedented powers that he can not be held accountable for? Here’s the section of the draft proposal, that you are encouraging me to support:

    “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

    This problem was caused by letting the government have too much control over our markets, and now we should solve it by giving them more control? Very foolish.

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

    Tom, get some backbone and have a little faith in the free market. We’re Americans, not spineless socialists.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:01 PM, MonkeyMan1140 wrote:

    PLEASE quit calling it socialism!

    When wealth redistribution is from the poor to the rich it is NOT socialism!

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:31 PM, megalon81 wrote:

    I hate rewarding bad fiscal behavior, but I worked for organizations that lived and died by their lines of credit. (Bad idea, I know, but don't blame me. I was a wage slave-- and content to be so). I also know that many local and regional banks are innocent of bad fiscal behavior, and they are willing to continue to extend credit responsibly. But these banks rely, ultimately, on the larger financial institutions to lend them money, and even the less despicable of these institutions are unwilling to lend to other institutions. *THIS* is the problem that needs to be addressed. I think that the current, much altered version of the "Paulson plan" that includes the equity stake and other provisions, may well be our best option-- but I also recognize it may not work.

    Yes-- I know the 700 billion number was totally arbitrary. I'm glad the current plan will be implemented in stages. Even half of an arbitrary large number is arbitrary-- but is at least a gesture toward lessening the risk.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:45 PM, vardenusa wrote:

    Let's let the free market determine the fate of the world's financial institutions. Let's let AIG fail, Bank of America fail, Wachovia fail, etc. Now let's play out this scenario.

    Who takes over in bankruptcy? What happens? Oh yeah, the federal government takes over the assets and sells them to pay the debt holders, and if anything is left over the stock holders. How did the RTC get the assets in the 90's? Oh yeah, from the failed S&L's and real estate partnerships. Who footed that expense?

    Only the people who put us in this mess will be hurt by allowing the firms to go bankrupt. Wait, who owns the stock? Anyone have a 401K invested in mutual funds? Or a pension plan that invests in stocks?

    We (the taxpayers) are going to pay one way or another. A plan that tries to stop the bleeding quickly or letting it play out over years and taking the economy down with it in the process. It's your choice - tell your representatives.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 12:45 PM, richman1211 wrote:

    As soon as this hit the web on 9/22 I was blogging it everywhere I could - especially on Republican sites. It explains the Insurance approach and it seems this is the alternative the Republicans are pushing now. I'm behind an insurance approach though I'm not sure what the Republican plan has morphed into. Thought it would help to at least give some people a good summary of the general idea.

    http://www.ftportfolios.com/Commentary/EconomicResearch/2008...

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 1:01 PM, SteveDude2727 wrote:

    "Democrats did not rubber stamp the first Paulson plan"

    I have a huge problem with this statement. The Democrats, and half of Republicans are in support of this deal. It is only a small handful of conservative Republicans that have been holding them back, and are dead set against this socialist takeover of the free market. Hell. The Democrats have a large enough margin to pass anything they want. So why not let it go through? Because the American people are mad as hell about this ridiculous bailout...and the Democrats, and blue blood Republicans don't want to get hurt at the polls this fall...so they need every single representative and senator behind it - that way they are all in the tank for this ripoff.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 1:29 PM, PSerrano wrote:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/7820460

    You all may have heard how Sweden dealt with their own banking meltdown; sounds familiar (and involves equities).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/7820460

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 2:49 PM, tumachar wrote:

    Wrong example, Buffer is not buying equity. He knows that risky. He is buying preferred stock. Thats safer than equity and provides you return even if equity does goes nowhere.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 3:13 PM, TheLake46121 wrote:

    No bailout! We need to have incentives to invest capital by private citizens, just like Buffet got incentives to invest and make it worth the risk.

    Government can help capital investments by creating incentives for people to invest in the companies that need it. Government should step aside and just referee.

    I'm ready and willing to take the pain now thanks to Larry Burkett, Crown Financial, and Dave Ramsey.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 3:46 PM, spongeworthyusa wrote:

    SteveDude2727 said "The Democrats have a large enough margin to pass anything they want."

    Nope, very wrong. They might get it through the house on a simple majority but the Senate is another matter entirely. You don't think the Repugs wouldn't filibuster from here to Pluto if the bill makes it to them in the current form?

    Don't get me wrong - I think the bill put together by the Dems from Bush, Paulson and Bernanke's specifications stinks to high heaven and deserves to fail, but there's no way the Dems will or should walk the plank for Bush or his henchmen.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 4:18 PM, spongeworthyusa wrote:

    @XMFHamp:

    Yeah, that's great how Robert Shiller says he hates the bailout plan but prefers it to the alternative. Yet he admits he has no real idea what the alternative is. He's like the other sheep in Washington who are running on the "Don't just stand there, do something" paradigm. Not too smart.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 4:33 PM, FreeNachos wrote:

    It seems like we're for free market on the way up and communism on the way down.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 7:03 PM, youngblood28117 wrote:

    In 2005, these banks spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire lobbyists to pass legislation limiting the access consumers have to relief under bankruptcy when they are sinking under burdensome debt. Now these same organizations want a BAILOUT now that they are in the "soup". NO WAY, let them find their own way out of this mess. If there must be a bailout it should roll back that 2005 consumer bankruptcy legislation.

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 8:34 PM, wkshimself wrote:

    A simple slogan for the people, with apologies to Patrick Henry: Give us equity or give them death (or at least disgorgement)!

  • Report this Comment On September 26, 2008, at 11:31 PM, Bullstothewall wrote:

    CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES AND TELL THEM TO VOTE NO SOCIALIST CORPORATE WELFARE "BAIL OUT!"

    http://congressorg.capwiz.com/congressorg/issues/alert/?aler...

  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2008, at 2:28 PM, janvandebong wrote:

    I disagree with the bailout. That is far more power than any government should have. Also, foreigners such as myself who have USD positions in companies that don't have to be bailed out will see the currency value erode. Meanwhile Americans themselves will have to pay more for gas & everything else because their legal tender is worth that much less. How can it not bother you to see the currency debauched & devalued? I'm a paying customer of TMF & am appalled to see such a request from members of the top brass.

    "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

    You support this? You have that much faith in the government? What have they ever done to earn your trust?

  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2008, at 9:42 PM, realitycheck13 wrote:

    Your Tax Dollars at work. By Mortgage BreakDown Looks like the United States isn't going to worry about hitting $10 trillion in national debt. They're going to skip 10 and go straight to $11 trillion in debt with what the government is planning on spending with these so called bailouts.

    Welcome to the socialist, with a tinge of communism, United States of America. There's just no....

    continued at

    http://www.mortgagebreakdown.com/news-archive.aspx

  • Report this Comment On September 28, 2008, at 2:51 PM, IB1FOOL2 wrote:

    IT IS OBVIOUS THAT WE CAN NOT

    NOR SHOULD WE KEEP PUTTING

    GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD BY

    DOING A BAILOUT AND LETTING

    THESE SAME MAJOR BUSINESSES

    KEEP DOING BUSINESS AS THEY

    HAVE BEEN DOING. IT IS LIKE

    PAYING OFF A FRIEND OR SPOUSE'S

    CREDIT CARD DEBT AND ALLOWING

    THEM TO KEEP MISSUSING THEM

    AS THEY HAVE ALREADY DONE.

    IN THE END YOU'LL BE BAILING

    THEM OUT AGAIN AT A GREATER

    COST OR YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO

    LET THEM GO UNDER BECAUSE

    YOU'LL NEED BAILING OUT YOURSELF.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2008, at 7:13 AM, realitycheck13 wrote:

    GREAT ARTICLE BELOW

    A Monday to Remember!

    The bailout is going to cost all of us and our children an amazing amount of money in the future. We as a country just can not afford to continue adding to a national deficit of what will be more than $11 Trillion by the end of this year.

    We fully understand the implications of no bailout. It is pretty much guaranteeing at this point that we and the rest of the world will drop into a 1930's type....

    continued at -

    www.mortgagebreakdown.com

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2008, at 11:47 AM, OurCreation wrote:

    We can stop the Great Bailout!

    Given the now likely passage of the Great Bailout, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!

    If you're mad as hell too and want to stop the passage of the Great Bailout, please visit http://ImMad.net to sign a petition, right now!

    Then spread the word about http://ImMad.net to as many people as you can, right away!

    This is our last chance to speak up.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2008, at 3:31 PM, lluluien wrote:

    Here is the roll call vote from the House for resolution 3997 - the "Bailout". Now you can find out whether or not you need to call your Representative to tell him he's being voted out if he votes in favor of this again when it comes up for the next try. I already called Ike Skelton to tell him I'm voting for his opponent in the next election:

    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll674.xml

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2008, at 5:15 PM, veeveeorr wrote:

    I would ask my Representative, who happened to be a har core Reagan Republican to vote for the bailout. It appears he did not; and I will send a letter that he can be sure of losing two votes in his re-election bid.

    This is the same dumb Congress which voted with re-doubled vigor to continue an ilegal war; and my children and granchildren are going to pay for it!

    Where did this "our children and grandchildren paying for" sense, I mean the common sense go, when you voted for the war? By the time we get out of the dumb war, we wopuld have spent 9 Trillion. Is that needed?

    This bailout is not the best; but this is what we have at the moment. Believe me, none of the blokes running for the President will get you out of the war. Pray your stars, if they don;t get you into a third war with Iran!!

    Vote for the bailout before the Arabs and the Chinese buy us out! Then, the idea of children and grandchildren learning Chinese and Arabic is much more disatrous than what we are in now!

    veeveeorr

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2008, at 5:44 PM, wdcfan wrote:

    Aren't you scared yet? How much more do your investments have to go down until you let US save you? Terrorists, suicide bombers, financial crisis, war on drugs...all the same in my book just your government trying to scare the poop out of you to let them do what they want to do. Once again, it's with our MONEY! If you want to sell me that bad paper, ok, I'll give you 18cents on the dollar. It's about time that govt started paying for itself instead of a net loss on your schedule C.

  • Report this Comment On September 29, 2008, at 10:00 PM, ringokate wrote:

    Oooh, scary. Credit will dry up if we don't fork over $700B and turn over our banks to the federal government. How can we even consider such a solution in the face of our 9 trillion dollar national debt and our bankrupt Social Security trust fund? When we will learn?

    So the credit will dry up.....

    Hmm. Isn't the problem that there has been too much irresponsible lending and borrowing? When you invest, do you prefer companies with huge debt ratios? Do you want your spouse to max out your credit cards? Would you buy an ARM with no ceiling? What IS this American love affair with bad loans, anyway?

    Less available willy-nilly credit would be a GOOD thing for the economy, for businesses, and for the consumer. If loans dry up, I say, good, for the bad ones will go first! If lenders are forced to tighten their standards to only credit-worthy applicants, good! If borrowers must become more informed and more cautious, and if those who are neither educated nor qualified are prevented from getting in over their heads, well, good. And if the result is an injection of discipline into the system, and the people, again, that is good for our economy and good for our future.

    The market will resolve this itself. With banks in crisis, and the market crashing, and real estate bubbles bursting, those with money desperately need somewhere to put it.....somewhere safer than a bank! So real estate and stocks will reach a price at which investors will buy, demand will increase, and prices will rise.....And private venture capitalists with no place to put their money save their mattress will lead the return to lending or equity financing, finding worthwhile businesses and mortgages to back, when returns and risks become attractive enough to warrant the investment. Businesses that are less worthy will fail, just as they do today.

    A failure of defined contribution pension plans as a result of this fiasco might be the biggest issue, but that might lead us to a return to defined benefit plans, and that too would be a good thing for the vast majority of Americans.

    Maybe the focus needs to be on that triple whammy that will be felt by the trailing baby boomers and Generation Xers. Those entering the workforce after 1985 or so, with less than ten or twenty years to work, may be facing poverty in retirement in spite of extensive taxation and savings. They will get little or nothing from the defunct social security fund into which they have paid all their lives; most will get no pension from their employers other than a 401k; and they will now suffer serious setbacks in their 401(k) accounts, which were forced upon them with little discussion and less education.

    Maybe, instead of saving the crooks and the fools -- if they insist on spending money that we don't have -- Congress could help structure a transition back to defined benefit pension plans for the American workforce and solve the Social Security problem at the same time.

    Or they could fund alternative energy technologies with 700B to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and save not only Wall Street, but the troops in Iraq and even the planet Earth.

    The question to ask our representatives is perhaps not whether or not to spend the 700B, but why we should choose to spend it here instead of there....there are so many alternatives. When they cannot defend their choice from among the many choices of equal or greater merit, when faced with all the disasters coming down the pike which they have created and then been happy to ignore, this disaster might seem like one equally worthy of ignoring, and this bill will collapse under its own weight.

    It's all a good thing for our grandchildren, though it might be very painful for many of us.

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2008, at 7:27 AM, rider00 wrote:

    Warren Buffett is worth $33 Billion or so (if he rescinds his charity pledges). If he supports the bailout, then let's call on him to buy the first $30 Billion dollars worth of assets from the troubled banks. I'd be willing to match the terms that he can negotiate (equity, preferred pricing as in the Goldman deal, etc)

    If this bailout is really so good for main street, then surely his contribution can do more good now then by dumping it into the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.

  • Report this Comment On September 30, 2008, at 5:42 PM, misterrock wrote:

    Is it really a good idea for the government to hold stock in free-market companies?!?! Do you really want to hold stock against a government that influences and controls market conditions.

    If that isn't a screaming conflict of interest, I don't know what is.

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2008, at 5:25 AM, rider00 wrote:

    Misterrock,

    Why not distribute the shares to every tax payer in proportion to the amount of taxes he or she pays. I'd feel better getting stock certificates in the mail (or deposited into my brokerage account) rather than have the government own my shares...

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2008, at 10:51 AM, BottomIsIn wrote:

    Ask your average citizen what to do, and do the opposite. That works in most cases. I think it works here as well.

  • Report this Comment On October 01, 2008, at 4:48 PM, jdgee2 wrote:

    Vote "NO", for this knife-stab in the back of socialism and the free market.

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