Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Rescuing Friedman

As a scion of one of the largest real estate fortunes in the world --
…"married into one of the 100 richest families in the country" - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

-- I assume that poor Captain Obvious has been taking it square in the shorts these last few months.

Probably whittled down to a net worth a mere several thousand times that of the average working-class American citizen, and in that rattled, distracted state we can certainly excuse him for eliding forgetfully over certain facts in his NYT column today.

Like the fact that, to a less forgiving person than myself, it might look just a little bit too much like special pleading for the scion of one of the largest real estate fortunes in the world to use his incredibly influential New York Times column to loudly lobby for a shut-the-fuck-up-already-and-save-the-real-estate-market taxpayer bailout without revealing that he is, y’know, the scion of one of the largest real estate fortunes in the world.

Stuff like that.

So in the interest of being helpful, I have taken a moment to add back into Tom Friedman’s column “Rescue the Rescue” those facts that he obviously unintentionally omitted due to haste or grief or angst or agita or perhaps there is even some kind of Rosh Hashanah-relate head injury involved.

Anyway, for the convenience of You!The!Customer! I have helpfully tagged the stuff I added in in red bold, and lined-out the stuff poor, old Tom obviously accidentally cut-and-pasted from some mid-1990s column on the virtues of centrism.

October 1, 2008

Rescue the Rescue

… I’ve been frightened for my country only a few times in my life: In 1962, when, even as a boy of 9, I followed the tension of the Cuban missile crisis; in 1963, with the assassination of J.F.K.; on Sept. 11, 2001; and on Monday, when the House Republicans brought down the bipartisan rescue package.

But this moment is the scariest of all for me because the previous three were all driven by real or potential attacks on the U.S. system by outsiders. This time, we are doing it to ourselves Republicans are doing it to us. This time, it’s our own Republican failure to regulate our own financial system and to legislate the proper remedy that is doing us in.

I’ve always believed that America’s government was a unique political system — one designed by geniuses so that it could be run by idiots. I was wrong. No system can be smart enough to survive this level of Republican incompetence and Republican recklessness by the people charged to run it.

This is dangerous. We have Republican House members, many of whom I suspect can’t balance their own checkbooks, rejecting a complex rescue package because some Republican voters, whom I fear also don’t understand, swamped them with phone calls. I appreciate the popular anger against Wall Street, but you can’t deal with this crisis this way.

We’re all connected. As others have pointed out, you can’t save Main Street and punish Wall Street anymore than you can be in a rowboat with someone you hate and think that the leak in the bottom of the boat at his end is not going to sink you, too. The world really is flat. We’re all connected. “Decoupling” is pure Republican fantasy.

I totally understand the resentment against Wall Street titans bringing home $60 million bonuses. But when the credit system is imperiled, as it is now, Republicans you have to focus on saving the system, even if it means bailing out people who don’t deserve it. Otherwise, Republicans are you’re saying: I’m going to hold my breath until that Wall Street fat cat turns blue. But he’s not going to turn blue; you are, or we all are. We have to get this right.

Message to Republicans in Congress: Don’t get cute. Don’t give us something we don’t need. Don’t give us something designed to solve your Republican political problems. Yes, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke need to accept strict oversights and the taxpayer must be guaranteed a share in the upside profits from all rescued banks. But other than that, give them the capital and the flexibility to put out this fire.

I always said to myself: Our government is so broken that it can only work in response to a huge crisis. But now we’ve had a huge crisis, and the system still doesn’t seem to work. For completely partisan reasons, Republican leaders have spent decades so thoroughly destroying any sense of political comity, collegiality and compromise Our leaders, Republicans and Democrats, have gotten so out of practice of working together that even in the face of this system-threatening meltdown they could not agree on a rescue package, as if they lived on Mars and were just visiting us for the week, with no stake in the outcome.

You're welcome, Tom, and no charge; I know you're a little short this month.


Anonymous said...

Simple yet clarifying corrections.

Fran / Blue Gal said...

You oughtta charge him. Whatever he makes per word plus ten percent.

Cirze said...

Or try to send it to the Times as "his" corrections.

It's much better written now.

(?) I better go to bed. The Scarahy debate has finished me off.

(?) What am I saying?

You, well said (at least), Dg. Your brilliance a given in all your undertakings.

Oh, and BG (before I crash),

You know he must do it gratis, of course. How much would you offer a billionaire for columns that mainly benefit himself?