As the first House of Representatives vote on the bailout fails and markets all over the world tumble in reaction, I started wondering where we might possibly find a non-governmental solution, since some staunch opponents don’t want our government to bail anyone out. .
A majority of Americans say they vehemently oppose what they consider nothing more than a government bailout of financial companies, even though there is no way to disconnect their own daily lives, jobs, and ability to borrow from the very financial companies they demonize!
But ok. If you’re cheering now thinking that the real people on main street won, hold on to your hats. Companies that pay your paychecks borrow from financial institutions on a regular basis to meet their payroll as part of what’s called cash flow management. Local food markets and gas stations also use these financial devices for cash flow, since they don’t have enough money on hand to purchase all the things they need to sell. Often they also have money owed them or they have to wait to actually sell things before the cash comes in. So banks provide money (liquidity) for them to keep doors open and business flowing. And liquidity, while still there for some at this very moment, is rapidly drying up. And once it dries up, priming the pump takes a long time. (Think DEEP recession.) Financial liquidity is the lifeblood of our country.
It’s not just the fat cats who are in trouble right now if financial markets aren’t in some way bailed out or at least helped back to their feet. It’s the average person who will hurt the most. The pain we already feel will just be the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s face it. We all screwed up. Both the government and a lot of the average citizens have been on a spending spree. And financial firms ran amok with our money and the trust we had in them. And now trust is low or for some gone completely. But it’s not too late. We still can work together to find a solution to save not only the banks we rely on, but our very way of making a living or buying the things we need.
I think one of the biggest problems is no one has taken the time to explain this in a way we can all connect to. It seems like THEIR problem. Those horrible people on Wall Street. But it isn’t. Just think about your retirement accounts. (I can’t even look at mine.) And the cost of food. And the ability to send a kid to college or ever buy a house again or just to get credit of any kind. And the very real issue of payrolls and jobs. It’s OUR problem.
I think this is a failure of trust (and rightly so, may I add) rather than a failure of the ability for us to find a solution. But before we watch something even more horrible take place right before our eyes – and these are truly scary times – we need to dig deep and once again find a way to let ourselves believe we CAN find a solution that helps both the banks and ourselves. And then we need to find it. Together.
And if you don’t want the government to do this for us, then maybe there are 700 billionaires who would each put up a billion to buy us. That, after all, would be the ultimate in free-market economy so many people clamor for.
But if that’s not your vision – and it’s certainly not mine – then we need to work with the admittedly imperfect government and the admittedly imperfect financial institutions to make this work for us all. And as for all the partisan rhetoric…it’s time to let it go and find a solution we can all live with, even if it isn’t perfect.
Whether it’s the Democratic Speaker Pelosi’s words as some claim (hate to think anyone voted in a crisis this big from hurt feelings alone) or the opposing Republicans (let me add many Republicans supported the bill for the good of the country despite its flaws) or a bit of both that screwed this up, it’s time to step past this and create a real bi-partisan solution.
And I pray we will do so soon.