Tuesday, September 23, 2008

so not an economist, but...

Coming at this as a ticked off totally naive I-just-do-what-TurboTax-tells-me U.S. tax-paying citizen...

OK. We've got to save our economy or whatever, which apparently means saving Wall Street from itself. So, we go socialized w banking and bail them the F out. But I think we really need to see the people responsible punished in some way. Incarceration for all of them would be the lovelieset lower and middle class schadenfreude (as well as some frickin justice), but I can believe that there might have been some "poor" slobs involved who could have been following orders. Put in a situation that might be boiled down simplest as a bank error in their favor, y'know? But what happens once the error is found out? You give the frickin money back!

(Umm... That IS what happens, right? Jack Tripper had to do that when his ATM spit out all that cash at him that time.)

Perhaps in time some clever attorney will figure out how to angle anti-terrorist or racketeering legislation to target ultra-rich fatcats who have profited over the last couple decades on the misery and debt of their customers (wouldn't it have been a good thing to level such charges against the likes of Enron, whose dealings yielded results similar to attacks on the infrastructure and resources?), but in the short term, why don't we tax the hell out of the F'ers? Start clipping that 99th percentile of wealth, siphoned from the middle class to create the extremely, disgustingly, endangered-species-eating, what's-the-frickin-point? wealthy. No doubt it will only put a small dent in the bailout, but it'll help, and what with the frightfully ridiculous requested amount of the bailout ($700 billion, right? and likely still not enough, no doubt) maybe their taxes can be directed at something besides the banks? Infrastructure, disaster relief, mortgage amnesty/adjustments, the war/s, education, Social Security, funding universal health care...?

A series of systematic, targeted audits would be fair, sure. Aiming to basically repossess the golden parachutes and perverse salaries and bonuses accumulated by outrageously compensated CEOs and brokers motivated to draw the middle class into the quicksand of debt. I'm guessing that singling the criminally greedy would be impractical, at least in the short term, tho. Then the megawealthy ought to be treated by the numbers, as a class, and taxed hard. Cuz, feck, they should give back to the country, the system, the society, the military, and the citizenry that allowed them to make any of their money in the first place, right? And when you're talking about retarded amounts and excess, you've gotta do more more than just give less than one percent to the Human Fund.

Would it be wrong to put a cap on a person's personal wealth? A limit, above which earnings, or whatever they are, are taken by the government as a tax. Someone who has more than the limit in a year can spend the surplus away in order to keep it from the government, but it must be in some ratio of charity to property. No doubt there are creative tax legislators who can riff this into something socially and mathematically defensible.

... or something.

Keep on keepin on~


Larry Kyrala said...

The important thing to notice is that the "bail out" isn't helping the foreclosure victims, or even the banks who have gone under, but it is helping the financial giants in the industry who have been quietly consolidating all the small property and players at bargain rates and then stand to get a government bail-out on top of it.

In fact, at the beginning of the housing speculation, a few financials at the top set the tone for the entire industry (0 down, floating rates)... so it's interesting that now they are the only ones left standing with all the remaining assets while asking the government to pay to keep it all running until recovery.

It's scary to think what the total value of those acquisitions will be once the economy stabilizes... it's virtually unlimited power over housing.

Jnjsmamma said...

Yes! And the other thing I want to know is, if we've all been talking about subprime loans and fannie mae and potentially record numbers of foreclosures FOR A YEAR! why now it's suddenly a "crisis" that has to be bailed out. Why hasn't anyone been looking into this more closely already-since this has all been predicted?

Sometimes it seems like the handbasket's picking up speed...