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Bold plan needed to build new economic engine

10/09/2008

By Tom Barefoot
 
Sure, it's the abyss, but look what wonders it has already wrought...
The good ole U.S. of A. is fast becoming a big-time socialist country. Who would have thought that Republicans would preside over the nationalization of a trillion dollars worth of private companies. Pigs can fly. Questions are being asked about the economy that haven't been asked since 1930 (hmm....). A lot of ordinary Americans are seeing that the explanations from the politicians don't add up..."The other guy did it," no matter whom you ask. Bush says the administration is totally blameless. McCain and Palin say it's those greedy Wall Street types that they have been against all along. The Democrats mumble something about, "See, we told you not to deregulate the banks." Main Street says Bush-McCain did it, by deregulation, obeying lobbyists, and stupidity.

What we need is a bold plan based on investing in key infrastructure that helps us build a new economic engine. You can be sure that GM and FORD will not be leading the way to the future. The very best thing would be a crash plan that offers to pay a premium price for power generated from real alternative sources (not so-called clean coal or so-called green nuclear) like Green Mountain Power is doing now. Guarantee this pricing for 20 to 30 years and you incent everyone to build energy-producing systems. This would quickly build a new economy based on developing, building, selling and installing only alternate energy.

Instead of "Drill, Baby, Drill," the Republican mantra -- that only gives us more of the same climate change and invests in businesses that are drying up. A big program to build out alternate energy would quickly break dependence on foreign oil (97 percent of world reserves are foreign oil from the U.S. point of view) and would quickly start to decrease the rate of greenhouse emissions and would build real businesses that build something worthwhile. We could see it and touch it. But no, Mr. Wall Street, Treasury Secretary Paulson wants us to give him total leeway to hand out 700 billion taxpayer dollars to his Wall Street friends to soak up the toxic loans that they made. There is nothing tangible here.

This is trading $700 billion for pieces of paper that may or most likely may not ever have any value. This is to prop up liquidity at the top so the bankers will feel good about lending money again.  I felt really sad about wasting all this money (borrowed from our children and grandchildren, by the way) when I heard a commentator suggest that the $700 billion is twice as much as it would take to bring every single man, woman and child on the entire planet out of poverty.

Now meanwhile, back at the homestead...6,000 homes are now being foreclosed on every day. Guess what, the homeless families are now living in their cars and schools are turning away their children, because they don't think homeless kids will do well in school (all that stress, doing homework in the back seat of a car, etc.) and that might lower their Bush - "No child left behind" test scores. We should be helping keep families in their homes, but the bankers won't accept that...they want us to buy their mistakes.

Did we mention qualifications for the highest offices in the land? She was a beauty queen, very photogenic and very uneducated. Her foreign policy experience? She lives across the Bering Sea from Russia and she got her first passport last year. But did you see that cool photo of her in a bikini (red, white and blue stars and stripes) with an assault rifle held across her chest. Now that makes America wake up and take notice.
So as our nation runs headlong off the edge shouting Viva Sarah...we can watch from inside the firecracker as the whole place goes up, or should I say down. You know the one -- "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." What do we say for "fool me three times"?

There is a plus, there is so much confusion that a lot of sensible things are being said by honest economists and others and maybe some of us will hear that and ask questions like, why do we have an economy? What is this thing for, after all? I would suggest that it is really "for the good and the happiness of all." Chew on that. I don't think it should be to "make the rich, richer and the poor, poorer," which is what we have had for the last 25 years. We have succeeded brilliantly -- we have the largest gap between the rich and the poor of all time. It is time for a change. If we don't really change course we will all be up to our ears in the red ink -- think New Orleans flooding, oh my....

Tom Barefoot lives in Warren.

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