Finances and the End of the Free Market

The recent revelation of George W. Bush as the leader of the new United States of Soviet Socialist Republicans has been an historical shocker. Heir to a political legacy based on opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, the serial federal bailouts of the last week made Roosevelt look like a libertarian by comparison. It doesn’t seem to disturb those who have trumpeted free markets or put onerous free market deregulation requirements on the Asian bailout a decade ago. It does disturb people like me, who never bought a building with less than 20% down or even tested half the depth of my credit card limit. I was raised on fiscal responsibility and it has been more than a bit sickening to watch the drunken frat party on Wall Street for the entirety of my adult life. Not to mention the pretend conservative blowhards on TV and the radio. They should spend the rest of their lives eating their false words. And getting a real job – how long can you be a carny, after all?

The stomach does another churn when you realize how much of our urban and rural landscape was destroyed by free-money-no-credit-check real estate developments. I bought and sold a house between December and March of this year and had to get several mortgages because I bought the new (1897) house before I sold the old (1873) one. If you read the papers, you might wonder how this could happen what with the subprime mortgage crisis and its successor, the entire-credit-system crisis. Well, you have to be able to see the trees for the forest. Both of my houses were historic and in historic districts in Oak Park. I asked one mortgage banker about defaults and his answer was simple: we don’t have any bad loans in Oak Park. The bad ones are in new developments on the fringe.

Which makes perfect sense, because just as the government is now bailing out irresponsible financiers and insurers, they got to that position by promoting ecologically irresponsible, high-energy-consumption subdivisions on the periphery. They not only gambled with easy credit, they gambled – and lost – on the environment. Those farm fields were by no means ecological treasures, but they weren’t covered with gypsum, concrete, styrofoam and sticks like they are now.

Besides the death of the Reagan Revolution, the current bailout has spurred all kinds of I-told-you-sos, which it deserves. Some of my favorites are the Henry Paulson Nigerian e-mail, which you can see on BoingBoing, along with a site that asks the Feds to bail each of us out of all the silly purchases we have made in our lives. Good luck on that count, but we can dream- even those of us who have always been rooted and responsible.

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