Monday, September 15, 2008

It's the Economy, It's the Economy, It's the Economy!

This is a real bad time to be a market Republican. Seems the GOP has set its priorities: God first, country second, market fifteenth. Businesspeople (like me) are getting very nervous as it becomes more and more difficult to pretend that the GOP cares about them at all.

It's no wonder - after 8 years of Bush's pretend conservatism, and turning the GOP into "the party that wrecked America", as some are calling it, we have Wall Street banks going bankrupt. It may not be obvious to everybody what a disaster this is for the American economy, in the same way that it's not immediately obvious that your alternator failing is bad for your car. Eventually your lights dim and the thing stops. Dead.

Meanwhile, I just finished The Coming Collapse of China. Its author argued that said collapse would be triggered by a liquidity crisis in the country's banks. It was published in 2001; oddly enough, since then, the Chinese banking system, while still not in great shape, has improved considerably, to the point of tolerating the scrutiny of foreign investors. Interesting! Meanwhile I saw people lining up to withdraw from ATMs at my local Washington Mutual on Saturday morning. When are we going to wake up? The GOP is no longer the party of fiscal responsibility.

So - our major banks going under, our country's in massive debt due to an ongoing war - do you pick the candidate from the same party that's put us in this situation, who expects the war to go on another hundred years, and who will put us in even more debt? How about the candidate who says he's "not an expert on Wall Street" and supports the do-nothing decision not to do anything to avert another meltdown? Meanwhile, how's your job, how's your company doing, how are your 401k and home value holding up? Of course, that's John McCain and his bevy of Bush plants.


Squid said...

I bought a small house in the city some nine years ago; the 15% loss I've suffered over the past two years wipes out less than two years' appreciation (my neighborhood was appreciating at more than 8% up until last year). So, my housing situation is looking pretty good. In fact, I may try to convince my wife to take advantage of this buyer's market to upgrade our lodgings. I'm willing to take a 15% hit on my $150k home if it means I get 15% off on a $300k home.

I work in government consulting (yes, that's right, a libertarian doing his part to make local governments suck a little less), so I'm pretty much recession-proof right up until people do away with government. Likewise my wife, who works for a conservative financial business that has very limited exposure to the mortgage mess. So I guess I'm pretty good on the job and house fronts.

My 401(k) is getting the shit kicked out of it. I try to console myself by remembering that I'm not selling; I'm buying, and the lower the prices are today, the more I can buy, and the more I'll have when I retire in 20 years (or 15 years, if markets rebound sufficiently).

(Lest I be accused of having no heart, I'll remind our good host that we give quite a lot of our time and money to community causes, on top of the taxes that our city and county spend on feel-good social projects.)

Now, you're asking me to vote for the party that kept regulators away from Freddy and Fannie for the past decade. To vote for the candidate whose closest advisors include two previous chief executives from Fannie Mae, and who wants to socialize medicine (as though Medicare wasn't going to bankrupt the country quickly enough as it is). To vote for a party that thinks taking ever-increasing amounts of my earnings and using it for their favored charity cases is a proper function of government. Honestly, Tom, I fear you've lost your bearings.

Your "hundred years" charge, by the way, is simply so unfair that it's hard for me to grant that you're arguing in good faith. It's been well-documented that "100 years" was a comparison to our garrison duties in Europe and Korea and Okinawa. Your citing it as though it meant 100 years of Falluja-grade warfare makes you look like a dishonest partisan hack, and I thought you were above that sort of thing.

The only thing I hate more than the Republican Party is the Democratic Party, if only because they take every failing of the GOP and magnify it. I've agreed with most of your criticisms of the Republicans over the past several weeks; their behavior warrants such criticism, and more. But I cannot believe that you think the Democratic Party, and Obama in particular, would perform any better. In truth, I'm hard-pressed to think of a single issue on which they would perform more competently or responsibly than the Republicans.

They'll say they're raising taxes to balance the budget; we both know they'll increase spending even quicker than the Republicans have. They'll say they want to regulate the financial sector better; we both know they'll be co-opted by bankers' money just as they were co-opted by Fannie Mae. They'll say they'll get us out of the Middle East; we both know that they'll listen to Petraeus' advice. They'll say they want to fix health care; we both know they'll turn it into the biggest nanny-state debacle in history.

Open your eyes, Tom. Criticize McCain and the GOP to your heart's content, but don't expect the rest of us to jump in bed with Obama. He's worse than McCain in almost every aspect. I'm writing in Parker and Stone, because right now, South Park makes more sense as a political movement than any real-life campaign I can think of.

Mike said...

I'll believe China's banks are in good shape once the yuan is convertible and the Chinese people have the right to invest their money outside the country. Till then ...

Thomas Paine Jr. said...

Mike: read the report. China still has far more underperforming loans than any bank in the West could tolerate, but the reform has been moving them in the right direction.