I don’t want the American economy to get the Asian flu. Really, I don’t. It’s not good for anyone, least of all Canadians.
But at the same time, this $700 billion bailout, should it eventually pass (the US Senate is expected to approve it this evening, after a retooling following the House’s rejection on Monday) will feel like rewarding the greedy. I know it’s not, of course; if banks fail account holders suffer, and that doesn’t help anything. But these bailout packages seem to contain little in the way of punishing the financial system for getting into this mess in the first place, to say nothing of ensuring that it doesn’t happen again. Hopefully the latter would be set out in new legislation, regardless of who becomes president. I dare say that even if Phil “The De-Regulator” Gramm hadn’t already been booted off the McCain campaign, he soon would have.
So Wall Street cries out for the Senate and House to save “Main Street” by handing over $700B, but the mob doesn’t like it. Not because they won’t want to help Main Street…they are Main Street. It’s because there’s no sense of justice here. I wouldn’t recommend something so head-scratching as Michael Moore’s plan (although the idea of sticking it to the nation’s 400 richest people will hold appeal for many) but if Bernanke and Paulson would just include a tax or fine — some kind of slap on the wrist — on Wall Street in their package, they’d have more public support, and a better chance with Congress. But it won’t happen. Bailouts and other socialist ideas only apply when it’s taxpayer money; when profits are at stake everyone miraculously reverts to a laissez-faire idealist.