Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is Your Bank The Next to Go Under? Check The Secret Government List!

After a short jaunt out of town, I couldn't wait to get back to bloggin'. There was just too much insanity this week: Bush, the war flip-flopper (time horizons??? Who the hell writes this crap???), Obama's overseas jaunt, or, the run on the bank...yes, you heard me, a run on the bank. Holy Mother, that's the fifth bank to go under this year! Okay, that's the story.

The first thing I had to do was to educate myself on the banking industry. The only thing I know is that banks suck. Credit unions are a little better, but they're all in business to make money on my money. 'Nuff said. But truly, my understanding of high finance doesn't extend much beyond my basic explanation to Little Man about how you get money from the bank for giving them your money. I even got nervous hearing myself explain it: "Well, they take your money and give it to other people...and when those people pay it back, you get some of the extra money they had to pay to borrow it." Man, the look he gave me...you could read it all over his face - "I may be little, Mom, but I'm not stupid!" Sounds like a hell of a scam when you simplify it like that. Anyhow, I had lots of questions.

I found a great article on Slate.com, that actually discusses the secret government list of bank ratings. Oh, yeah, you knew they had one, right? But guess what? It's SECRET, so, in true government style, you don't get to see it, because you might do something ignorant like go withdraw your money from your failing bank and put it somewhere stable, or tell your friends about it or something. Thus, once again, our government is protecting us from ourselves. "Oh, naive little people, you would cause a run on the bank through your nervousness, and we really don't have your money to give out, because we've pissed it away on bad investments, like super-extra-jumbo deluxe home loans. Or giving deals to our powerful, wealthy friends who, unlike you and your family, obviously need a break on a home loan." Ah, yes, the wisdom of representative government.

The article then goes on to explain that about five banks a year go under. On a regular basis. And many of them aren't even on the secret list! Wow, this just gets better and better, doesn't it? Thank goodness for Senator Schumer's public letter, in which he expressed worries about the state of IndyMac, or this all might have gone down behind closed doors. CNN says, "Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday the Bush administration is trying to "blame the fire on the person who calls 911" by suggesting he had a role in one of the costliest U.S. bank failures." Surprise, surprise. Shoot the messenger. Deflect the blame. The Bush Administration lacking transparency, and blaming one of the good guys, Sen. Schumer, for looking out for the state of our finances. Never happen, huh?

So, here's the other thing I don't get. Granted, I'm just a middle class mom, but here's the thing. We are bailing out yet another corporate/pseudogovernmental organization (check out the Fannie Mae/Freddy Mac connection). What happened to this Republican free-market economy, "the market will correct itself" line they keep blowing aside when it comes to their corporate buddies (and their own investments)? I'm no Jed Bartlet, (man, I miss West Wing!), or a world-class economist, but isn't banks failing a pretty good indicator that the economy is in more than a "mental recession"? Don't all these corporate bailouts mean that we, as "...a nation of whiners..." actually do have something to whine about? Even Phil Gramm has to admit that the Office of Thrift Supervision - yes, that's really what it's called...honest, check the link...could I make that up??? -anyway, they let IndyMac screw up to the tune of $32 million. Yes, the Office of Thrift Supervision. I know.

Call me crazy, but unemployment at an all-time high, a huge housing crisis,personally knowing people who are hard-working and still lose their house, and now, banks closing- big banks, mind you: well, it sure looks like a big-ass recession to me. More importantly, it feels like a recession, not just in my head, but on my dinner table and in my gas tank. Somehow, selling apples on the streetcorner doesn't seem like such an outlandish way to make a living anymore. And that's what we'll all be doing if McSame gets elected. Barak may no be Hillary, but he's sure as hell not McCain. And that gets my vote any day.