Bailout triggers an earful of anger
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KAI RYSSDAL: As you know, if you caught it up at the top of the broadcast, I’m in Cleveland today at WCPN. As you might also know, Cleveland’s in the unfortunate position of having a whole lot of foreclosed properties in and around its city limits.
Northeast Ohio’s been feeling the pressure of a sliding economy for a good couple of years now. So when people hear the government wants to spend $700 billion to rescue — as they see it — a bunch of big banks that made some bad decisions, they’re angry. And when you get them on the phone the anger comes through loud and clear.
I sat in this morning on the local talk show here — “The Sound of Ideas” it’s called — hosted by Dan Moulthrop.
DAN MOULTHROP: Gary’s with us now from Lakewood . . . Hey, Gary.
GARY: Thanks for taking my call. You mentioned that there was a problem with the way they rolled this out, and I couldn’t agree more. They rolled it out as The $700 Billion Bailout. There were never any other alternatives put on the table first, or even saying, “We really need to talk about this as a nation.” We’ve been put in panic mode again. And we’ve been burnt in panic mode twice. We got burned after 9/11 with the Patriot Act being passed — that basically shredded the Constitution; and we got burned in the lead-up up to the Iraq War with WMDs. I think they have a crisis of trust. We’re in panic mode and we do not believe them.
Trust, of course, is the problem here. The banks don’t trust each other. And because they haven’t really been told what’s going on, people don’t trust the government.
MOULTHROP: Joining us now from Eastlake . . . Alicia, good morning.
ALICIA: Yeah, I just, you know, I just hope that all these things are . . . whenever they come to a final determination, are explained to the American public.
RYSSDAL: And that’s what I’m saying, right.
MOULTHROP: Exactly, Alicia.
ALICIA: I find this very frustrating. And then I think that some of these financial instruments that are being put out there are so complplicated that the average consumer doesn’t even understand it and Wall Street giants don’t even understand it. The impact of it, I think that somewhere down the line thing have got to be simplified so that everybody knows where we’re at and we are all on the same page.
MOULTHROP: Alicia, thank you, very much.
Now to Elaine, from here in Cleveland.
ELAINE: Well, I have a pretty simple question for both of you. And this has to do with the definition of the so-called crisis. What I want to know is why this crisis is being called the crisis for the American people. The crisis for us all. Why are you, who are the political/economic commentators, talking about this in such a universal way, and not talking about it in terms of the very specific group of people who have made billions of dollars on this greedy and rapacious appetite having to do with the economy?
I’m going to tell you what I told Elaine this morning — that there is a universality. That what happens at the highest levels of finance, among those big Wall Street banks we keep telling you about, that does affect your car loan and my credit and your neighbor’s mortgage.
Because if they’re not lending to each other because they don’t know how much bad debt is on a borrower’s books, then your auto finance company, and my credit card company, and the bank that holds your neighbor’s mortgage, won’t have enough cash to keep on lending. What the government’s trying to do — and there are a lot of other ideas out there, and a bailout may or it may not be the best plan — but what it’s trying to do is unload that bad debt to get the trust — and, eventually, the money — flowing again.
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