The White House has sent a $700 billion bailout package to Congress for approval. Add that to the approximately $815 billion of the current costs of the various bailouts and emergency loans, and the housing collapse is now costing the American taxpayers over one and a half trillion dollars. That’s trillion, with a “t”. Or, this: $1,500,000,000,000.00. That is a staggering amount of money. Combine that with what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing, and the budget deficit, and the next president has just had all the discretionary spending of the next term wiped out.
The implications for the American people are grim. Trickle down economics, one of the great fallacies of conservative ideology, does have one practical application. While good times at the top don’t necessarily trickle down, bad times always do. When the rich and big corporations, especially banks, get hit hard, layoffs and bankruptcies follow, as do curbs on loans to small businesses and individuals. Even with the bailout, there will be a tightening of credit to prevent a future occurrence of this fiscal crisis.
So what we have to look forward to are less jobs, less available cash, and we’re still collectively carrying our own debt while now covering a vast amount of corporate liabilities. No money for discretionary spending means the only action possible to stabilize entitlements is to cut benefits. Universal healthcare is effectively dead while the Treasury holds onto all this bad debt, so healthcare will continue to funnel a lifetime’s worth of assets from families to doctors and hospitals. More than at any other time since the age of the robber barons, assets will flow uphill, at a pace greater than that which already exists. We will continue to work longer hours for less pay, and a smaller percentage of Americans will be able to retire completely.
When we look at our paychecks, we can now see the pie divided five ways. One: money for personal debt. Two: money to cover corporate debt. Three: money for doctors and hospitals. Four: money to be sent overseas for gasoline. Five: what’s left for utilities and food. This is not the American dream. We have just been leveraged for a trillion and a half dollars and have nothing to show for it. Government for the people has evaporated for who knows how long until this mess is over.
All of this is because of conservative ideology. The great myth of conservatism is that government is the sole repository of corruption. Now we see that such corruption is a self-fulfilling prophecy while those who are in charge of government subscribe to the idea that government is the problem. We get once-competent cabinet administrations gutted by cronyism and patronage. The regulatory state disintegrated under the conservative watch, and greed ran rampant in the financial industry. Adam Smith’s invisible hand needs to be holding a leash, otherwise greed and malfeasance normalizes great risk, leading to the economic disaster of this past week. We are seeing the effects of scorched earth capitalism, and we are being left to foot the bill.
Conservatism is synonymous with reckless, anything goes corporate behavior. From the whittling down of environmental laws, government services, and government oversight, all related to their effects on corporate profit, conservatives in government have shown once again that there’s is an ideology that shows no concern for the collective welfare of the American people. It was bankrupt when it kept slaves in chains, it was bankrupt when it let the Great Depression spin out of control, and it is bankrupt today.