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Listeners let us hear it on bailouts

Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag

TEXT OF LETTERS SEGMENT

[MUSIC: "I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter . . . "]

KAI RYSSDAL: And man, oh man, have there been letters. All it took was the threat of global economic Armageddon to get you going. From the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy to the bailout of AIG and the president's $700 billion plan to buy a bunch of dicey securities from suffering financial institutions.

You may or may not be surprised at this, but most of you aren't too happy about the state of affairs at all. Take Charles Vallee of Milford, Michigan.

CHARLES VALLEE: I may well agree with the need to safeguard the financial structures of international capital, but what's being done to make sure this doesn't happen again? I wasn't expecting to end up owning a piece of AIG. Oh, whoops, I don't get to own it, just pay off its debts.

Sarcasm aside, the general tone from listeners this week went something like this:

That it's just plain unfair for the government to help out a bunch of banks and other institutions that, as you see it, made a bunch of not-so-smart decisions.

Karen Lane from Palo Alto, California, wondered whether there wasn't another way.

KAREN LANE: The mortgages should all have been put back together, with financial help from the feds. Anyone who couldn't afford their mortgage should have been offered lower interest rates or had the life of their mortgage extended . . . regulation to prevent this from happening again and, optionally, demand the return of all of the fat cats' mega salaries and throw them all in jail.

I can't tell you how many e-mails we got on that topic alone: CEO compensation. Barney Frank told me this afternoon, by the way, that he's pretty confident that whatever plan does eventually pass is going to have compensation limits in it.

With the billions of dollars the government keeps spending -- it's almost a trillion if you include Fannie and Freddie, AIG and Bear Stearns -- Jeff Setaro of Columbia, South Carolina, asked a question that might be on a lot of people's minds.

JEFF SETARO: With all the talk about government bailouts lately, what I want to know is, who is going to bail out the government?

Taxpayers, I think, is the answer you're looking for there, Jeff. Now, not all the letters were complaints. Some of you said we should all just calm down, trust the government to do the right thing. I said some of you there. What I meant was, two of you.

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