Monday, September 29, 2008

The Most Expensive Campaign Ever

What do you think constitutes too much money to spend to campaign? How many millions? Do we get into the billions territory? This past week has seen the most expensive of all; in fact, today it reached over a trillion dollars. As stocks fell, and people wondered if their banks would be open the next morning, Democrats and Republicans saw this multibillion dollar fiasco as a chance to do some political jousting.

I watched as the situation built to critical mass. John McCain "suspended" a dying campaign so he could devote time to this crucial situation on behalf of America. This was spoken by a man who ranks last in the Senate this year -- for time spent in the Senate. Barack Obama came and sat in the White House and pretended he knew what was going on as he listened to economic advisers discuss what the next step would be.

A shiver runs down my spine as I realize that neither one of these men, and one will be president, has a clue about anything financial. However, they both have seen it as an excellent political opportunity.

Congress found out today that it's "kind of" important to listen to the electorate. Americans simply don't want to put our grandchildren further in debt to bail out irresponsible Wall Street sharks. We just don't have much in common with banks -- the tallest buildings in our towns, the ones that own our houses and cars and replaced knees and hips. However, we do have a lot in common with our friends and neighbors who are putting "for sale" signs in their front yards, and we don't see how 700 billion dollars sent to Wall Street is going to do anything about that.

But it's quite a photo op. The bill might have passed today if Nancy Pelosi had not made such a fool of herself. Perhaps the only poorer taste in campaigning I have ever seen was in 2002 when Democratic operatives tried to turn the late Senator Paul Wellstone's funeral into a campaign rally.

Pelosi gave us a prime example of why Congress's approval rating makes George Bush look like a rock star. They can get nothing done. Her rather crass grilling of the party across the aisle -- and a Democrat who has a few brain cells, and there are several, knows that the mess we are in is "bi-partisan" -- cost her any semblance of leadership.

But Nancy, I'm thankful. I'm like most Americans. I know that my retirement funds will be back. And one reason for that may be that your congress was not able to print 700 thousand thousand thousand dollar bills.

Having something like this happen so close to an election has been a mixed blessing. Those in the highest echelons of power are obviously not interested in what is happening to us. They are seeing this as a chance for a political move, a way to turn the elections in their favor. On the other hand, some savvy politicians and observers saw this as an opportunity to remind 435 people in the lower chamber that their jobs are on the line. Talk show host Dave Ramsey even encouraged us to call our congressional offices and tell them we would fire them if they voted for this measure. I think Dave must have a pretty good listener base. I think they called.

Pelosi was surprised. Bush was surprised. Republican leaders who were supposed to deliver the votes to GW were surprised. Harry Reid was near tears. John McCain and Barack Obama were almost speechless (that's a perk there). I thought that the evening network news anchors were going to cry on the air. A rather smug George Stephanopoulos assured us that this "necessary" bill would be passed as soon as those silly Republicans took a step back, got over their mad, and re-voted on this issue.

I'm counting on them holding their ground. I've been hearing Mr. Obama say that McCain and others are just extensions of George W. Bush and his "failed policies." Today, those same Republicans are the reason that the largest Socialist trap ever conceived in our nation did not become a reality. It was the Democrats who wanted to continue Bush's policies.

My own local congressman, a Republican, canceled a speech at our local high school to get back to DC in time to vote, and he voted against the Bailout. He's got my vote, and he would have it no matter what party he was in.

How much did this campaigning cost us? Seven hundred billion is cheap. The stock market lost a couple of trillion dollars today. That money came out of our 401k's, our educational savings plans, our teachers' retirement funds, and our personal mutual funds. It happened because government got involved in economics. If cooler heads had prevailed, and we had decided to ride this crisis out for a while and let those grasshoppers die while the ants weathered the winter, we would have seen a hiccup in the market today.

We can also thank the media, who have decided that we are about to go through a great depression worse than 1929, and are warning us about it on every corner. This is the same media that caused race riots in their irresponsible coverage of Rodney King, who showed us how bad we are for not bailing out a New Orleans that had built a city below sea level. They are the ones who continually have to remind me who's black and who's white when I want to look beyond color.

All in all, the loud ones were in a minority today. I'm sorry, GW, Nancy, Harry, John, and Barack. You are not getting our money to play with today. If you want to help us out with 700 billion dollars, I suggest you just give it back to us! We know what to do with it. Better than you do, obviously. I know you won't because there's not much to campaign about when responsible people use their own money to create business, growth, and prosperity.

We will survive. Even a trillion dollar loss will not stop those of us who avoid debt, who spend only what we make and try to give away as much as we can. We are not going to give you our money. Don't even think about it.

Oh, and a big PS that I can't put anywhere else. You want to know how messed up our congress is? Here's the title of what they voted on today. Notice there is nothing about Wall Street, bailouts, interest rates, or anything else. Most normal human beings would have given it a name that was germane to the vote. See if you can figure this one out; I am not making this up. This is the title of the bill that was voted on today:

To Amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to Provide Earnings Assistance and Tax Relief to Members of the Uniformed Services, Volunteer Firefighters, and Peace Corps Volunteers, and for Other Purposes

And you wonder why they never get anything done.

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