Yes, the stock market is falling to pieces. Many of you on my LJ probably already knew that, and if you didn't, well you do now. And yes, we need to do this whole government buyout thing. But we need to do it right.
Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?
Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.
This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.
I just signed a petition calling on key members of Congress to impose a few sensible conditions to this bailout in order to protect the American people -- I hope you will too.
Please have a look and take action.
Here's what their petition says,
We strongly urge you not to issue a blank check to the Wall Street giants who have steered our country into financial dire straits. We must address this crisis quickly and prudently. Do not give these companies a dime of taxpayer money unless they agree to the following conditions:
--1. If the taxpayers are shouldering the risk, the taxpayers should reap any eventual benefits. We accomplish this by giving the government an equity stake in every company we bail out proportionate to the amount we give them.
--2. If we're paying (more than) our fair share, the CEOs and executives should have to, too. All of the fat cats who got us into this mess should relinquish their stock options and salaries until they start showing us, their investors, that they can once again be profitable. Future salaries should be linked to profitability.
--3. No more campaign contributions from Wall Street executives and PACs. Taxpayer dollars should be used to get our nation out of a crisis. They cannot be used to fund giant, powerful lobby operations that will be used to strong arm Congress into making bad policy.
--4. Better regulations start right now. Wall Street can't expect to take thousands of dollars out of your paycheck without agreeing to increased transparency and more stringent oversight - the kind that might have helped avoid this mess to begin with.
--5. Bankruptcy judges get broader leeway to help homeowners. Why should we lose our homes so the CEOs can keep theirs?
A blank check without these conditions would be nothing more than a reward for bad business practices. If the bailout does not include these conditions, you must oppose it.
Please go ahead and sign the petition. I know a lot of you don't think the internet petitions are worth a damn (because you've told me as much), but that's an excuse and we both know it. You stand to lose a lot more if you give up a good opportunity to say something, particularly when your alternative is to scan past this entry and do nothing. You don't know until you try, but if you don't try you're really no use. So if you don't sign this petition, I'll respect that if you do something else to help. Right now I haven't seen other ways to get involved, but if you find them I'll gladly post them up here and get the word out.
Maybe you could call or email Chris Dodd, who is proposing a responsible version of the bailout, to express support for his diligence. As Paul Krugman said, "Treasury should now be required to explain why this isn't a much, much better way to do this rescue." Dodd has the right idea from the looks of it, and having this petition behind him can't hurt.
Here's the link again.