Throwback Rant: Getting Hit by a Car and the 2008 Financial Crisis

I got hit by a car while riding my bike. My knee smashed into the passenger side of the car, just above the wheel well, causing me to fly over my handlebars and land on the ground chin first. My left shoe flew off, and when I got my bearings I noticed the car that hit me had come to a stop on top of my bike’s front tire. This parking job had rendered my front rim completely useless, but I was fine. My knee was tweaked, my chin scraped up, my favorite shirt a bit torn and tattered, but I was fine. My bike, on the other hand, was not. The front rim was annihilated, the back brake ripped through the bar tape, and my toe clip cracked.

I had made an appointment with my local bike shop to fix a chipped fly wheel the following day, so this accident had pretty solid timing. The girl who hit me was so freaked out by the whole event that she took me to the bike shop, bought me a new rim and gave me twenty bucks. She also promised to help pay for my bike tune-up. Sometimes unfortunate happenings produce positive results. And speaking of timing, it is odd that the greatest U.S. financial crisis in the 21st century coincides with me getting hit by a car. It isn’t the first time I got hit by a car and it isn’t the first time the U.S. faced economic hard times. However, it is the first time that both happened at the same time.

And just as I saw the accident coming, but could do nothing to prevent it, our country saw this financial hurricane on the horizon but couldn’t do a damn thing besides board up the windows and hope for the best. We knew the money was going to hit the fan and get shredded, leaving a few unlucky folks on their knees crying. But that is the nature of the free market our government has lauded as a magnificent system.  Rather than letting the free market do its thing, they have opted for a more socialistic approach.

The whole situation is funny in the same way that seeing a person with tourettes syndrome in public is: not really that funny when you realize you are laughing at someone with a disease. Make no doubt about it, our government is ill. This is nothing new. Our country’s political immune system has AIDs, and has for some time. We’ve been surviving, but our time is coming—unless we find a cure.

The cure, to Bush and similarly spirited individuals, is to buy up all the failed and troubled mortgage-related assets that predatory companies couldn’t flip to people dumb enough to buy them. No worries, the U.S. Government will gladly fill that role! I mean, unbridled stupidity is something the Bush administration is infamous for. Stupidity or absolute evil genius? I guess we’ll have to wait forty years to find out, but until then, let’s look at this bailout thing at face value.

$700 billion is the number we are told is the price American taxpayers will be forced to pay to save companies like AIG, an insurance company who has tried (and sometimes succeeded) in screwing over people who lost a loved one and were waiting on the insurance policy to pay out.

According to David Stout of The International Herald Tribune, “The recovery package cannot go higher than $700 billion without additional legislation. As for that figure, it lies between the optimistic estimate of $500 billion and the pessimistic guess of $1 trillion about the cost of fixing the financial mess. But the $700 billion is in addition to an $85 billion agreement on a bailout of the insurance giant American International Group, plus $29 billion in support that the government pledged in the marriage of Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase. On top of all that, the Congressional Budget Office says the U.S. government bailout of the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could cost $25 billion.”

So, $700 billion—about what we spent so far on the Iraq war—is a price that comes with a few extra fees that are being left out of the press conferences because $700 billion has pissed off enough people as it is.  God forbid they tell us the truth—the blood of politicians and CEOs would fill the streets. After all, if we knew half the things Bush and co. are responsible for, Bush would be cast out of this country along with his family and anyone associated with him. One trait that is still deeply rooted in all Americans (and most people) is the lust for vengeance and justice.

Yes, if it weren’t for all the smoke that has been blown in our faces, the White House would be nothing more than a smoldering pile of debris.  And that gives me hope for tomorrow. Our government can’t keeping hiding the truth from us forever, and when they finally slip, it will be their feet that get put to the coals.

Now Bush and his cronies have stressed the urgency of passing their bailout plan—a plan that will buy up assets of questionable value, leaving our Treasury to sell mortgage debt as they see fit. The only restriction is that the administration reports semiannually to Congress.  Wait? $700 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money and that’s the only restriction? Are they serious? Really? Yikes, we are doomed. Pack what you need and get the hell out. It’s only a matter of time before they start bombing the suburbs for fun.

The Bush/Paulson Bailout plan has left a bad taste in many peoples’ mouths–mainly because it was 3 pages long, the Congressional equivalent to a cocktail napkin, with zero oversight, which is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place. The word “bailout” has been given such a negative connotation that “cunt” doesn’t seem so bad when put side-by-side. However, as we saw during the Clinton administration, bailouts aren’t necessarily bad if they are done right, with restrictions and high interest given to those who need bailing out. Clinton did it for Mexico. Clinton did it for Chrysler. And Clinton made a profit on both. The Bush/Paulson plan will probably leave us $700 billion short, while heartless CEOs buy islands to retreat to in order to avoid the pandemonium that will erupt once we realized we’ve been swindled by scum yet again.

Personally, I don’t have faith in the current administration to handle a bailout properly. Instead, I think the obnoxiously rich should help out the obnoxiously rich. Let them save Wall Street. After all, Wall Street is the car that hit the bicycle that is the American economy. The only difference between Wall Street and the girl who hit me is that Wall Street doesn’t want to own up to their mistakes; instead they would prefer to the crush the rider (the American taxpayer) to avoid cleaning up the mess they created. And that just ain’t right. So what does me getting hit by a car and the 2008 financial crisis have in common? Both suck, but at least getting hit by a car saved me money and got me a new front rim.

written: Sept. 2008

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