Less than intelligent politicians in Washington, DC are plentiful and to some extent acceptable. When they do something smart however, it's time to acknowledge that feat. CEO's of multibillion dollar companies on the other hand, are generally considered to be a step up from normal intelligence, if for no other reason than they are given huge salaries. From what has been transpiring in the nation's capitol lately, even politicians are calling some of their antics dumb. Now that's ironic!
The action started when congress suddenly discovered that there was no money left in America's banks, something we on Main Street had known for quite a while. While neighbors up and down my street have had to put "For Sale" signs on their front lawns because they had Adjustable Rate Mortgages that in many cases had doubled their house payments. Many Washington politicians were still in the dark about our country's economic peril.
Gas prices had been going through the roof and congress apparently couldn't concentrate on more than one thing at once. As soon as fuel prices started going down, our nation's largest banks started collapsing. Congress did what they do best; they threw money at them.
This started a rush to Capital Hill by other large banks and investment house which all wanted a part of the $750,000,000,000.00 government pie! The Treasury Department's Henry Paulson somberly stated to members of Congress that unless this huge bailout was funded in the next 24 hours, banks were going to fold and congress would be to blame for putting thousands of people out of work!
The big banks got the money, but instead of spending it to buy up bad mortgage loans as Congress thought they would, those gigantic institutions bought other smaller banks, thereby increasing their wealth and power.
After American taxpayers began screaming that the money wasn't being spent correctly, Henry Paulson was called back to the Hill with another plan to spend the money he had been given. It seems that no one had anticipated that the largest banks in the country would want to increase their size rather than bail out Americans who were about to lose there homes to foreclosure.
At this point the automobile industry decided to get in on the action. The heads of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all flew to Washington to plead with Congress for a measly 25 billion dollars. For those of us who live from paycheck to paycheck, that's 9 zeros. I can't really comprehend what 25 million is, much less 25 billion, but they were asking for that amount with great sincerity, pleading how they would be bankrupt in a month if they didn't get the money.
Unfortunately for them, congress had already seen the urgency scenario played by the banking industry and they weren't buying what the car guys were selling!
Those highly paid car salesmen made a good case, but their arrogance was showing! They all flew separately in their corporate jets from their homes to Washington, forgetting the first rule of begging; make sure you look appropriately needy. You don't see a homeless guy on the corner watching a portable TV while holding a sign saying, "Will Work for Food!"
Our Democratic senate actually did something that I didn't think was crazy! They turned those CEO dudes down and sent them home with their tails tucked between their legs, telling them that they had to present a plan as to how they were going to spend the money. They weren't buying the auto makers suggestion that they be given a blank check up to the 25 billion and they would tell them later how it was spent. Congress made that mistake with the banking industry.
Congress is now thinking about increasing the government give-a-way to as much as $1,000,000,000,000.00. Unaccustomed as I am to writing a trillion dollar check, I hope I have enough zeros on the above amount. It seems as if the insanity has spread throughout the country, with anyone who has a sizable business, heading to Washington with their hands out for 20 billion or so. Asking for a mere 20 million is clearly not in vogue!