The Defeat of the Rescue Plan

On Monday, the House of Representatives surprised its leaders, the administration, and, most of all, the financial community by rejecting the agreed — upon financial rescue plan. The bill will be debated again [today].

Two-thirds of all Republicans and two-fifths of all Democrats voted against the plan, with predictable results. The markets tanked around the world. We saw a record 777-point drop in the Dow Jones and the worst one-day loss in the S&P 500 since the 1930s. The market recovered somewhat [Tuesday], but the credit crisis remains.

The explanation of why 228 representatives risked a meltdown in financial markets could be expressed in another set of numbers: Phone calls and emails from their constituents opposed the measure by a 100-to-1 margin.

Now to be sure, some, like my friend Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, opposed the rescue measure on principle. But many who voted against the bill merely reflected the will of their constituents, who wondered why their money should be used to take other people off the hook.

A very telling poll revealed that 25 percent of those polled favored the measure, 25 percent had no opinion, and the rest opposed it, largely on the grounds that it didn’t affect them or wasn’t their fault. And given what we saw on the television news, for once I believe the polls. The typical man-on-the-street interview went something like this: “The bailout won’t help me! You bet I’m against it.”

Frankly, I was appalled. I can’t help but think that these results illustrate how far we’ve gone down the path of viewing all politics and all of life as “what’s in it for me.”

As many have tried to explain, what is happening on Wall Street affects what happens on Main Street. As I record this, millions of Americans, living far from Manhattan, are measurably poorer as a result of what has been happening in financial markets.

So instead of asking “how is the common good best served?” we look to our own interest, even at the risk of a “decade of little or no economic growth” and a meltdown of the global financial system.

It isn’t only our lack of concern of the common good that disturbs me. It’s also our lack of accountability. I spoke with a very intelligent young banker recently who told me that he encounters it all the time. During his time in risk management, he never heard anybody in foreclosure say, “I made a mistake taking that mortgage. It was too big.”

Instead of acknowledging their accountability — their responsibility to pay the debt — they just shrugged it off, merely mailing the key back to the mortgage holder. Contrast that with a biblical sense of responsibility, of paying your debts.

But this isn’t just about finances. No great civilization has ever been built, or maintained, on the basis “what’s in for me?” That idea cannot demand, much less inspire, the necessary sacrifices to keep a civilization great, or even healthy-there’s nothing to aspire to apart from fleeting self-satisfaction.

As I said, I respect the principled opposition to the rescue plan by some members. But the fate of the economy is hanging in the balance. If the American people can’t look beyond the “me” and see the “we” with this much at stake, then much more than our retirement funds and our bank accounts are at risk.

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  • Dave

    Can’t say that I buy this argument, there’s a lot more to this bailout than a simple “me” versus “we”.

  • trailblazer

    I agree with Dave that this bailout is about more then me versus we. I think the simple reality is that moving the debt to the federal government might buy some time but, the end result will be the same because, ultimately, this is not about economics.

    What we are witnessing is the final assualt of the powers of darkness upon the USA so that a new world order might be established. An order wittingly or unwittingly designed to facillitate the emergence of the anti-Christ.

    St. Paul reminds us of this when he says our battle is not with flesh and blood but the spiritual powers of darkness in the heavens. There is only one solution to this problem and it is repentance and prayer. This is a spiritual battle and until we name it as such and respond spiritually, we will remain powerless to change the course of events that have been set in motion.

    Michael

  • christymomof3

    Yes, the informed recognize it at more than Me v. We, but the average man on the street believes it to be a bailout of the wealthy speculators who have already been blamed by the mainstream media for all the high prices and layoffs. I think it is safe for Colson to say that the majority oppose the plan simply as a knee-jerk reaction to the headlines they have seen for months and because it does not help them individually, directly, and immediately. For most folks, there is no real investigation and analysis, as they are too busy just trying to live their lives. I do wish we could trust the politicians to honestly make that analysis, as we were elected them to do.

  • gk

    If the “American Way” = “A Strong Economy Always and Forever”, then the bail out must be passed and made into law. And by “strong” it is understood that that people must continue their upward financial ride to materialistic nirvana.

    Tis a shame if a strong upward economy is the only way to be American because I do not see american life in that vein at all. Do we have to be in a rising economy at all times?

    Is it not okay if prices drop in order to “right size” them? If we need to go into a bear market, we need to do that. Life is like that. It is not always up … up … up.

    Let, the market do what the market has to do. Many things have contributed to this unstable, scary moment. We over priced housing and passed credit out like Halloween Candy. I have lived through 2 or 3 bad economic times in my 42 years, and it just is part of reality. It builds character. A down market makes things right. It speaks to us in an intense – quiet voice that is just as important as the up market. We should not silence that message or stick our fingers in our ears and yell “I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING! I CAN’T HEAR ANYTHING!”

    I think Americans are more than just the good times and high flying, rip roaring, cowboy rodeos. No, it is not just the up side that makes us Americans! We are defined as much by the rough, tough, down and out times. We need to take a breath. We need to think about what it is really all about. We need to wonder about the big things. Not just how much money the Christmas rush will bring in for the economy.

    So, for that reason, I say we should catch this bear undertow and ride her back out to where we belong so we can catch more bull waves. Until then, we are denying our philosophical selves what we need right now. We are not just shadows of people who can only exist in smiley-smiley happy-happy land. Come on! We are more than Christmas morning. We are Lent and Easter people too. A seed must die before …

  • kent4jmj

    If you are not familiar with the Austrian School of economics here is a link to one of its most articulate and informed leaders Murray Rothbard. He was a student of Ludwig von Mises who brought this economic school of thought to America.
    Remember that this was first published in 1969 which to me underscores its credibility.

    http://mises.org/story/3127

    Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure Here is a little taste.
    “Fortunately, a correct theory of depression and of the business cycle does exist, even though it is universally neglected in present-day economics. It, too, has a long tradition in economic thought. This theory began with the eighteenth century Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume, and with the eminent early nineteenth century English classical economist David Ricardo.

    Essentially, these theorists saw that another crucial institution had developed in the mid-eighteenth century, alongside the industrial system. This was the institution of banking, with its capacity to expand credit and the money supply (first, in the form of paper money, or bank notes, and later in the form of demand deposits, or checking accounts, that are instantly redeemable in cash at the banks).

    It was the operations of these commercial banks which, these economists saw, held the key to the mysterious recurrent cycles of expansion and contraction, of boom and bust, that had puzzled observers since the mid-eighteenth century.”

    The ability to manipulate the money supply through raising and lowering interest rates as well as printing money increasing the supply are the real culprits and of even more importance Totally Unnecessary. We do not need to suffer this nonsense. The market would work just fine if left totally free from manipulation of government and the federal reserve.

  • c-kingsley

    The economy is a drunkard, broke and lying in the gutter. Along comes the congress, “you poor thing, let me pay your bar bill.”

    If this was so important, how has it ballooned from a 3-page bill from the president and treasury secretary, to the 100 page bill that was rejected on Monday, to the 400 page bill that was passed by the senate on Wednesday? If this is so important, why is it loaded up with pork barrel projects?

    Can ONE of you supporters of this bill even SUGGEST any clause in the constitution that authorizes the congress to even be involved in mortgages?

    Isn’t it odd how the people writing these bills are the same ones who denied (at a congressional hearing in 2004) that Fannie and Freddy had any problems at all (and those suggesting that they had problems were causing problems by the suggestion of problems). Chris Dodd has received over 100 thousand dollars in campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie. John Kerry is in second place, and Barack Obama is in third. This is since the GSEs were established. Obama has gotten into third place in just three years.

    Frankly, I don’t believe them. They have manufactured a crisis so they can go and do what they want to do. “Quick! Gimme all your money NOW or you’ll be eating dog food in one week! QUICKER!” I believe the economy will be in BETTER shape in 5 years if they do nothing at all.

  • c-kingsley

    Here are sources for some of my assertions: excerpts from the congressional hearing are at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGT_cSi7Rs (Though there is disagreement about what sort of relationship Franklin Raines has with the Obama campaign, what Barny Frank and the other defenders of Fannie and Freddy say are enough evidence that the fox is guarding the hen house in ths bailout.)

    About donations to their campaigns: “These totals are based on data released electronically from the FEC on Sept. 2 and include contributions to lawmakers’ leadership PACs and candidate committees from the floundering companies’ PACs and employees.” http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/09/update-fannie-mae-and-freddie.html

    Why would I trust that they’re now trying to do the right thing for the country when they have been enriching themselves at the country’s expense for so many years?

  • kent4jmj

    No Bailout bill then Marshall Law! As reported by rep. Brad Sherman.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaG9d_4zij8

    And from a spiritual perspective.
    http://www.markmallett.com/blog/?cat=2

    TEN months ago on the vigil of the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, I wrote to you the words I was hearing in my heart:
    This is the Year of The Unfolding…
    Those were followed this spring by the words:
    Very quickly now.
    The sense was that events around the world were going to unfold very rapidly. I saw three “orders” collapse, one upon the other like dominoes:

    The economy, then the social, then the political order.

  • http://yahoo.com Patrick

    For He giveth and He taketh away,
    everything is by His will.

    For those who have doubted, questioned or in some way attributed only something to God, today is for you. Nothing is we, everything is Him. Happy people, successful people, ‘normal people’ find this hard to believe, and understandably so – (if the boat isn’t rocking why check the storm). We’re working, we’re living, we’re loving, why attribute everything to God? I attribute everything to Him because there are other people living lives like mine, but who still can’t find a place in the garden of receiving God’s gifts.

    Unrelentless, barrenness, despite every prayer. I have tried to tell people that it all belongs to Him, that it all comes from Him, and that it is all because of Him, but apart from offering the token yes, not many really believe this. I am compelled to say that He is the Giver and that He is the Taker. There are many good explanations why He does what He does and He gives what He gives, but the bottom line is nothing, not a hair will move or a blade of grass stir, if His will doesn’t permit it. One hand has written it all. That hand has the power to overwrite. Thank your stars for all you have; remember He arranged it that way.

    HE ALONE CAN CHANGE.

    You say you have helped yourself and made your own life. Your parents are there, your family is there, your friends are there, and everyone has done everything for you. I say nothing would have worked for you, if He hadn’t sanctioned it. These are ALL his graces you fool! He is too kind to remind you of what He has given. New Age spiritually has all the feel-good factors, modern books will tell you that it is all within you; contemporary teachers will say you can achieve anything.

    NO. Nothing can be done, no family no friend, no prayer or power will work if God doesn’t say “yes”. And for reasons best known to Him He has said “no” to a million people, a million times! Ask these people why friends, family, or gurus or the power within can’t help. They can all give you faith, but even this faith can’t move the mountain. Faith moves God, then God moves the mountain.

    It’s all in His, a power people take for granted or don’t even acknowledge. I am not His attorney. The devil needs an advocate, not God; but I am telling you from experience that nothing will happen if He doesn’t want it and everything will happen if He wants it.

    The secret to everything in life is God. Sounds nerdy, foolish, and backward – say what you want. Abuse all you like and mock me for my naivety, you are entitled to your belief.

    I hope God never bends low and whispers in your ear, “Sorry, but I am taking it all away because you didn’t believe in Me, who gave it all to you”.

    I have heard a “No” from God and I can’t even begin to tell you what it sounds like. Take my word for it; it all begins, ends, and continues because of Him. He can do it all in a second and He can take it all in a second.

    God is not just all-powerful; His power is in working condition. Despite all they read and learned, a large percentage of people still know so little. Everybody enjoys the hospitality of God and His kingdom, as if it is their birthright.

    Nothing is your birthright – it is your gift. Get to know the real God before God decides to say its time you got to know Him.

    Is there a joyous side to this truth?

    Yes!! “When God wants you to have something, the entire universe conspires to give it to you” And you get it!

    PATRICK

  • Mary Kochan

    Amen and amen, Patrick.

    We have a lot of people running around thinking they are “self-made,” that they created their own success when they didn’t even create their own existence. After all, even if you are smart, you didn’t make your own brain. GOD IS BEING. Everything else came into existence because he willed that it exist. For every ounce of pleasure, every delightful sight and sound, every delicious bite, every enjoyment of sense, we owe Him gratitude. “Thank you, Lord” should be in our every breath.

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