I remember as a kid listening to a veteran describe his experiences as a medic during combat. It was on stage, and I cannot recall who the man was. He described, in tragic comedy, taking cover when fired upon and watching in horrified amazement as a comrade-in-arms jumped up, yelling epithets at the enemy. The guy then ran into a hail of bullets and fell wounded. The injured man then yelled the word most feared by the performer: "Medic!!" So the medic became a reluctant hero, bound by duty to rescue the foolhardy fellow.
And so we find ourselves as taxpayers rescuing the brave risktakers who gambled with other people's money in a most reckless way, and now shout for the rest of us to save their institutions. And act we will, if only because we may all sink together if we do not. Financial institutions have grown to the point at which their failure threatens to bring down America's financial house, with unimaginable suffering to workers and businesses who themselves are innocent of the imprudent foolhardiness of the gambling ethic. The powerful, self rewarding CEOs have known, indeed everyone has known, that the government will, inevitably, come to the rescue. For almost a generation, complaints about bureaucratic regulations have been put into actual policy. And now the horrible equation emerges into view. We have deregulated only the risk taking, putting the taxpayer in a rescuer's compromised position.
As the financial crisis worsens in the United States, the Presidential candidates are pressured to respond.
Senator Obama has always been skeptical of the deregulation surge. He has, over the few years he has been in office, been a quick study on the dangers we have been approaching. So he has the advantage of having formulated an informed critique of past policies that have led us to this point, and he has an approach. Obama favors enough regulation to ensure some minimal financial integrity, without hamstringing responsible creativity.
John McCain is in the unfortunate position of playing catch up. He has been in the forefront of the deregulation movement which has brought us to this disaster, and he is surrounded by the architects of our current system of risktaking and rescue. Those who have crafted our unpleasant situation run his campaign and have been assigned to plan his prospective administration.
But McCain is not without his own well considered plan to save our country. He is unburdened by the detail that Obama's approach presents. Instead, he proposes ...... a commission. And not just any gathering of wise lobbyists.
It will be a Blue Ribbon Commission.
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