I’ve been posting some of my better political essays on OpenSalon. Many of my offerings there are more formal. Less strident. Several are nonpartisan, unconventional win-win proposals that might help either major candidate to be successful and help us all. (Folks are welcome to drop by, offering comments, diggs and del.icio.us upticks.)
Another of my essays: “Why The Candidates Should Stipulate,” has been circulating in various forms for years. I know the most recent version was read by people in Obama’s campaign. Could this be what gave them the idea for the following?
At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.
It does sound like precisely what I recommended. And the latest version is re-posted here: Why Obama Asked McCain to "Stipulate" Common Ground.
Ah, but while those two essays were elevated, offering proposals that rise above partisan bickering...
...there is also a place for partisanship! And hence, the rest of this posting! Fasten seatbelts. My children are at stake. So are yours, whether you have any or not.
= POINT NUMBER ONE: Ask Warren Buffet to design the “bailout” - not those who made the mess =
I’ve long argued that we need to do, in politics and government and management, what medical science did long ago -- try to allocate credibility based upon outcomes, or how often you were right, in the past. I’ve offered some possible ways to do this. And I’m a member of the core group appraising progress in Prediction Markets.
Recall how the people who forecast Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait were not rewarded, but bullied and fired, for the crime of having been right. More recently: Freddie Mac's Chief Risk Officer expressed concerns in mid-2004, that the company was buying bad loans that "would likely pose an enormous financial and reputational risk to the company and the country...leading to his being fired in 2005."
Let me suggest that the current drive toward a $700 billion bailout is being handled all wrong. Some sort of major intervention may be necessary, but who should design it?
As Russ Daggatt points out: “It was McCain’s economic guru, Phil Gramm, who in 2000 successfully fought to exempt all derivatives from any and all regulation, through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act.
On the other hand, Obama is being advised by Warren Buffett who over five years ago warned against derivatives, which he called “financial weapons of mass destruction.”
Note Gramm’s handiwork: The total derivatives market worldwide is estimated at around $450 trillion – or almost HALF A QUADRILLION dollars. (Do you think a mere $700,000,000,000.00 bailout is going to solve the problems of our financial system? Or is it merely a sop and a prayer to get McCain past November.)
Meanhile, Warren Buffett is actually helping to solve the problem with a massive investment in Goldman.
This must be our fundamental, no-compromise position: No “fix” unless the commission recommending solutions is run by people like Warren Buffet.
Keep this simple. Put Buffet in charge of this thing -- or it’s no deal.
= POINT NUMBER TWO: Connect this scam to others.
Yes, some are pointing to patterns that stretch back to the 80s S&L crisis. But it just occurred to me -- this new shell game is actually another version of "privatizing social security."
Think about it. Both endeavors aim to improve outcomes for those who already hold securities, by adding fresh purchasers and "greater fools" to buy up their bad wagers.
Unambiguously -- and even without deception -- the real winners of privatizing Social Security would have been the existing owners of stock. That’s even if there were no skulduggery, because when you expand the number of buyers, prices go up for those who already have. Duh. But at least the millions of new buyers would have been allowed to make some self-interested decisions. Some might win. A bit. Well, not really.
(Democrats must harp on this central Republican plank! How much would average folks have lost, if the GOP had its way and gambled Social Security in the stock market? Are you listening, Florida?)
Only now, the new scam is inherently far worse. Because - in the greatest act of socialism in US history - they want 300 million new buyers -- or greater fools -- to be forced to buy securities that are all dogs! Moreover, unlike the SocSec proposal, this one comes as a dire emergency measure like the trillion dollar no-bid contract festival called Iraq.
hm... fool me twice... shame on... who?
Is there a senator brave enough to say "filibuster"?
= POINT NUMBER THREE: More on “credibility to lead” =
In 2003, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Powel said (in effect) "We are the same gang who coddled both Saddam and bin Laden for years and propped Saddam back into power, in 1991 -- hence trust us as experts how to get rid of him."
In 2008, Bush-Cheney-Paulson-Cox say (in effect) "We are the same gang who created this mess, ignoring every warning -- hence trust us as experts how to fix it.''
It is that “hence” that should win them the Chutzpah Prize of all time.
-- Then there’s this --
WISDOM FROM THE 2008 REPUBLICAN PLATFORM
"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all."
Ah, but... ABC News reports the bailout comes less than a year after Wall Street’s five biggest firms—Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley—paid a record $39 billion in bonuses to themselves - even though the shareholders in those firms last year collectively lost about $74 billion in stock declines
== Oh but... ==
Dang... when George F. Will abandons the Republicans, you know this ship is beyond worth saving. (Of course, true to habit, George Will spoils it by defending, of all people, SEC chairman Christopher Cox. Brrrr.)
== Fish, or cut bait ==
Okay, I’ve been saying, since 2004, that this crisis is not about political ideology. “Left-right” is pretty meaningless at this point, when small business, the budget and the stock market always do better under democrats and when the Republicans have proposed the biggest acts of pure socialism in US history. When the civil servants and Officer Corps have been beaten into the ground and our childrens’ security sold off.
Okay, time to get busy. And I am talking to you! That means actually offering up some time and money, for the survival of a civilization that’s been good to you. Yes, send $ to Obama, that’s good... though he needs it less than this bunch. These are the contributions that will partly go to changing Congress and statehouses (where the real action is.)
Of course, if you REALLY care... go to your local Congressional candidate. He or she is the focal point for community outreach and get out the vote in your area. (Or, better yet, go to a neighboring district that's actually contested.) You are actually likely to have some fun, meet people. Feel good.
Oh, and you republicans and nonpartisans, who know we need change, but can’t bring yourself to use the dems to do it? Well, your local nonpartisan pollwatching group, like the League of Women Voters or even the county elections board, can use volunteers. (A serious matter, with Diebold on the loose.) So can the Libertarians, who will get saner, trust me, if they get into double digits!
There are even some fun opportunities out there. For example...
“The Jewish Council for Education and Research -- a new pro-Obama political action committee -- is organizing "The Great Schlep," in which hundreds of Jews will make the Southern exodus on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 10 13. They will travel to the Fort Lauderdale area, where they will visit their grandparents, organize political salons in their condos and eat incredibly bad food. The grandkids also will meet up at a bar one night, which -- if the psychological impact of spending a few days with frail, elderly, widowed relatives is taken fully into account -- may do more to repopulate the world's Jews than the creation of Israel.. More than hockey moms or gun-toting God lovers, old Floridian Jews are the most important demographic in this election. They make up about 5% of the voters in a swing state with 27 electoral college votes. They never miss so much as a condo board vote and are normally reliable Democrats. But...”
Know any Jewish college students back east? Tell em about this!
And find some way of your own to help.