Tuesday, December 30, 2008

U.S. Treasury Officially Criminal?

Well, well, well. The Treasury has decided to throw still more money at GM, to the tune of an additional $6 billion. Why not make it $60? Or $600? Keynesians assure us that public spending stimulates the economy. So why not make it positively orgasmic in scope?

I have just one question for the lawyers out there. Is there any precedent for charging a sitting Treasury Secretary with embezzlement of public funds?

I guess it doesn't apply in this case since the way HR 1424 was written Paulson can do pretty much as he pleases. Ironic, given how even Progressive Democrats reacted with horror at his three-page "Free me from all legal constraints" original suggestion. While the bill expanded to hundreds of pages, the essence remains the same and it's worked out just as anyone with any sanity left said it would.

Unfortunately, with Geitner coming in to the post in a few weeks - and by all accounts a virtual clone of Paulson - we're likely just to get more of the same. As Bette Davis wisely observed in All About Eve, "Buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride."

Still, some with a taste for sheer fantasy are more hopeful.
"This will restore liquidity in the auto market and help Americans purchase a car,” said Steve Bartlett, President and CEO of the Washington-based Financial Services Roundtable. “This, combined with the deal announced with automakers, will strengthen the entire auto market from manufacturing all the way to the consumer's driveway."
Oh, how I envy the ability of some to disconnect from reality with such aplomb.

2 comments:

-bjp said...

Oh really?

Taking money away from me and giving it to corporations that have a proven track record of failure will somehow enhance my ability to buy a car from the very same companies?

Are these people out of their ever loving gourds or what?

I am far more likely to spend my hard earned money on a car from a company that has a proven positive track record as I want a company that will be there 4 years hence if I have a warranty issue or 7 years hence if I need to purchase a critical part.

Follow the money, someone from the government knows someone, owes someone or is getting paid off by someone. that's how this kind of nonsense happens. That and the fact that either we Americans are simply worn down and don't fight back any more or the government types are simply ignoring us. Probably a little of both.

As Reagan said, the ten scariest words in the english language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you!"

Brad

Jeff Perren said...

Sorry for the long delay acknowledging your excellent comments.

What I find most interesting about this and a dozen (a thousand?) other similar debates is the never-ending focus solely on the likely practical outcome. No one seems to care about the moral issues involved.

Apparently, in private life, if you forcibly take money from X to give to Y, you're not regarded as a philanthropist but a thief. Yet, when the Feds do it, they are just acting for 'the public good'. As if being democratically elected and the need of the automaker employees and suppliers justified everything. Certainly Madison didn't think so.

I can never puzzle out why the inconsistency seems to bother so few...

As a side issue, I really don't think that private graft or connections have much to do with it. I'm sure there are conversations taking place behind closed doors, but that isn't what allows them to get away with it when so many are watching and debating.

There is simply too wide an acceptance of the wrong view of government - that its proper purpose is the socialist or fascist one that the state is here to take care of people, fix large-scale economic things that go wrong, etc. Few even talk about whether the Feds have the right to even discuss solving these problems, much less the right to use state power to get involved.

It's that view of the purpose of government that we have to work to change. We have to, somehow, persuade the electorate that 'doing nothing' (when it comes to the Feds) is often the only moral choice, no matter what the practical circumstances of the moment.