Bailout anger cooling among Americans
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Kai Ryssdal: It didn’t take the President but an hour to sign the bailout package after it passed the House today. If every thing goes as planned that could ease a lot of the pain the credit markets are giving us. But that is a pretty big if. So we’re spending some time looking at whether or not Wall Street has helped set American down The Road to Ruin.
Marketplace’s Amy Scott and Tess Vigeland are in the middle of a pair of long distance reporting trips to help find the answer to that one.
We’re going from West to East today to talk to them. Tess Vigeland is, well…Tess, I don’t know exactly where you are.
Tess Vigeland: Kai, right now I am in Salt Lake City. I made it out of San Francisco, but in between the two I ended up in Reno. By the way, I bet a dollar and I lost a dollar. But I did find some very nice folks walking into Harrah’s Casino who had Wall Street on their minds. Kelly and DeeAnna Garrett were up visiting from Bridgeport, Texas, and they were typical of what I’m finding — that the anger has really died down a bit over this bailout package. And DeeAnna went so far as to mention that she’s really already seen the effects of the crisis in her daily living.
DeeAnna Garrett: Every day. At the gas pump and at the grocery store. I think it’s hard on common people. Every day.
Vigeland: And I walked down the street a little bit and I found Wess Elliot and his wife Marge, they actually live in Reno, and he had his own ideas for how to get out of this mess.
Wess Elliot: Why can’t we sell bonds like we did in World War II, which is a concept of the people coming together, bailing out the country, and everybody’s standing together and doing something for the country,instead of the policings.
Vigeland: Sounds like you blame Washington more than Wall Street?
Wess Elliot: Oh yeah. Because Washington gives power to Wall Street.
Vigeland: And Kai, that’s another common theme that I’ve been hearing.
Ryssdal: What about in Salt Lake City? Same thing there?
Vigeland: Well I actually found Main Street here, Kai.
Ryssdal: Actual Main Street?
Vigeland: Actual Main Street. And while I was on Main Street, I found the mayor. And I sat down with Democrat Ralph Becker at a local institution, Lamb’s Grill, again on Main Street downtown, and he said despite the fact that things here aren’t as bad as other parts of the country — only 3.5 percent unemployment, national average is about 6 percent — there is a sense that the crisis will land here at some point, so they do have a stake.
Mayor Ralph Becker:People said, you know, turn the clock back 10 years when you fly into Salt Lake, but the fact of the matter is we’re part of this country, we’re part of this world, and we’ve got to chip in like everyone else. Whether this is the right solution, I don’t know, but we need to try to help our country and ourselves get back on our feet.
Vigeland: So again, the theme really is people don’t like the idea of the bailout, but more and more see it as a necessary evil.
Ryssdal: Where are you headed over the weekend Tess?
Vigeland: Mile High City — I’ll be in Denver for the entire weekend.
Ryssdal: Tess Vigeland out there looking for us, the Road to Ruin. Thanks Tess.
Vigeland: Thanks Kai.
Ryssdal: We’ll go to points east now, Marketplace’s Amy Scott is on the road. Last time we say you Amy you were Charlotte, N.C., about to get some food, right?
Scott: That’s right, and I did. I went to a soul food institution in Charlotte, Simmons Fourth Ward Restaurant. It’s the kind of place where the walls are plastered with photos of celebrities who have eaten there, and I’d tell you what’s on the menu, but it sounds so much more delicious when the owner Torrance Simmons says it:
Torrance Simmons: Barbeque ribs, baked chicken come with dressing, collared greens macaroni, banana puddin’ and peach cobbler.
Scott: I can vouch for the banana pudding. But it was a pretty slow night when I was there and Simmons tells me this has been the worst year he can remember.
Torrance Simmons: I’ve never seen it this bad. It’s like people just stopped eating — certain things come before eating out now.
Scott: Things like gasoline. You’ve probably heard about the gas shortage in Charlotte and parts of the Southeast; when you can find gas, people are still paying over $4 a gallon. You know, Charlotte’s also had it’s fair share of foreclosures and a lot of people are worried about the fate of one of the city’s biggest employers, Wachovia, which as you know is up in the air right now.
Ryssdal: Obviously though, you did find some gas. You’ve hit the road again. Where are you now?
Scott: Well, I’ve made it to Charleston, W.Va., about a 4-hour drive north from Charlotte on the I-77, and I’m sitting right by a symbol of West Virginia’s economic engine — a statue of a coal miner at the state capital building. The economy here has been struggling since long before the latest downturn. Chemical and manufacturing jobs have disappeared, per capita income ranks near the bottom for the country. But, you know, I get the feeling from the people that I’ve talked to, that they feel a bit insulated from what’s going on Wall Street right now. People like Kate Fitzgerald, an assistant principal of Charleston Catholic High School. I caught up to her at a high school girls volleyball game last night:
Kate Fitzgerald: People are making do with a lot less and so in some ways have been resistant to the cycle, or the huge sort of bust that we’ve had.
Scott: Fitzgerald is definitely worried about money though. She’s got some investments in mutual funds and stocks and so she’s probably lost around 10 percent so far this year.
Ryssdal: Hmm. Amy, we will hear from you again on the show on Monday. Where are you driving this weekend?
Scott: Well, in the mean time I will be heading into Pittsburgh, which will be celebrating its 250th birthday this weekend. So I’m hoping to catch some fireworks.
Ryssdal: Alright Amy, thanks a lot.
Scott: Alright. Talk to you soon.
Scott: You can check their progress on our Web site, and don’t forget, we’re going to meet up the three of us in St. Louis next Friday for a broadcast out of there.
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