Smile Politely

The Free Market; or Forever Blowing Bubbles

If I am not day dreaming, our economy is currently reeling from the recent pop of the “junk bond” bubble, and yet the same group of conscienceless speculators are busy blowing up a new bubble (historically, we’ve had a few years to get the gum off our faces, to recover, catch our breath before the huffing and puffing began again). Not to mention the huge, old and trusted, banks and investment brokers brought to their knees by irresponsible financial practices.

Driven by “worldly” curiosity (etymology), in reference to the word “speculator,” I found the word “speculum” (the device used to widen a patient’s anus so a proctologist can have a look around in a usually private area), and the word “speculator” have the same Latin root word “specere,” to look at or to view. For speculators, “looking at” means looking into the future and placing money, lots of money, on a commodities future cost—either up or down; and when the big money is betting on the price going up—the price goes up, but when there are no economic events under the rise in price, the rise is just hot air blowing up a new balloon.

There can be little doubt, that under the circumstances, speculators were behind the recent meteoric rise in crude prices. Luckily, the oil bubble, already too big to support itself, was back-doored by oil consumption spiraling down and production staying steady—the price of crude (great name) grew to a point where even the speculator’s could see the price was unsupportable. And, thanks to more corporate irresponsibility, this time on the part of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG, speculators are busy (again) driving up the price of crude (or the crude rise of oil prices).

John McCain and Sarah Palin, like their role models, Bush and Cheney, believe in the market being “free.” In this case “free” translates to no regulation and no oversight—even though the Fed is dancing around real supportable actions, lightly clamping down on irresponsible trading, the market loves to hate its “naked short sellers.” Most folks, like me, might think “naked short selling” has something to do with playing around in the stock market and losing one’s shorts. In reality naked short selling is lying about borrowing some stocks at a high price and later replacing those non-existent stocks with real stocks that cost less, at which point, the naked short seller pockets, in real money, the difference in price between the expensive lied about borrowed stocks and the cheap stocks that replaced them. I guess when one lives in that super wealthy space (out of touch John McCain who recently said (joked?) that his financial conception of the middle-class are those earning up to $5 million a year), the rules change. What scares me is that McCain, like Bush, does not understand the needs of the middle/working-classes.

President Bush inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion from President Clinton. In 2001, when Bush took office, he turned the surplus into a deficit in his first year and has continued to post a budget deficit every year since.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in March projected the deficit for the 2008 fiscal year, which ends September 30, would be $357 billion. The Bush budget predicted the 2009 deficit to be $342 billion, but that assumption was made before the spring economic stimulus package, and before the Freddie, Fannie, and AIG bailouts. The total Bush deficit, already exceeding 9.6 trillion, will almost undoubtedly break the 10 trillion mark. Understanding that the McCain/Palin ticket endorses holding the same, top down, economic course—giving huge tax breaks to corporations and to the most wealthy Americans, hoping the money will “trickle down” to us common folks, and putting the tax burden on the middle/working-classes—how could anyone, except the ultra-rich, in their right mind vote for McCain and Palin? Doing so would be even dumber than voting for Bush Sr. after what Reagan did to the economy.

For the benefit of those folks who do not remember the Reagan-Bush transfer of power, according a report by NPR, “[w]hen Reagan took office in 1981, the national debt stood at $995 billion. Twelve years later, by the end of George Bush [Sr’s] presidency, it had exploded to $4 trillion.” Both Reagan and Bush Sr. believed in top down economics, amassing enormous national debt. And the losses continued until President Clinton took the White House from Bush Sr.; Clinton took the tax burden off of the working and middle-classes, and turned the tax tables around so that the very wealthy and the corporations (including big oil) picked up their fair share.

We, as a nation, as individuals, cannot survive four more years of Bush/Republican mistaken free market policies—and the McCain/Palin ticket is a promise of just that—four more years of violent foreign policy, cuts in funds for education and Medicaid, and an economy that is promising to have working class and middle-class taxpayers paying for the irresponsibility of the “free” market and bailing out the ultra-wealthy.

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