WHAT WE COULD DO WITH $700 BILLION
Thursday, November 6, 2008
by Jim Hightower
With his usual keen insight, George W recently offered this comment about the Wall Street collapse: “Anyone who makes bad decisions should fail.”
One wonders if he ever looks in the mirror.
His own bad decisions aside, however, he’s now rushing up to Wall Street bankers who made terrible decisions and is stuffing their pockets with billions of our tax dollars to keep them from failing. Sending an even worse moral message, Bush is attaching no strings to this reward for incompetence and malfeasance. The bankers do not even have to use the bailout money to increase business and consumer loans that would help our economy. Instead, generous George lets them apply the windfall as they see fit – they can fatten their own banks’ balance sheets, buy up other banks – or even use it to pay fat dividends to themselves (it's estimated that $250 million from the bailout will go to such executive dividends this year alone).
And these are people who’ve been trying to tag Barack Obama as a socialist! We’re talking about at least $700 billion here, coming right out of our public treasury. Imagine if that sum was invested for public purposes – what could it achieve?
We could repair all of America’s deteriorating bridges, roads, and levees – projects that would create a million or more good jobs.
We could launch a “Green Deal” to make all of America’s homes and buildings energy efficient – all of FDR’s New Deal public works projects, for example, cost only half as much as Bush’s Wall Street bailout.
We could replace the Hubble telescope, put a new international space station into orbit, and launch a new Apollo-style exploration of our planetary system – all for less than the bailout’s cost.
You might recall that we've always been told that there’s no money to do such big American projects. Really? Then where did they find that $700 billion they're now handing out to Wall Street?
“Raising the Grades: Small Steps for Big Improvements in America’s Failing Infrastructure,” www.asce.org
“No Magic From the GOP,” The Washington Post, October 11, 2008.
“This Bailout Doesn’t Pay Dividends,” The New York Times, October 21, 2008.
“Oh, what the government could do with the financial bailout billions,” Associated Press, October 2008.