Political chatter from DC and NYC, the amNewYork way

Wall Street bailout is just running in circles

By Lynne

Is Congress crazy?

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Our current economic model is unsustainable. John McCain may have (initially) scoffed at the idea of pumping tires to save on gasoline costs, but there are so many common sense measures we need to implement -- in our homes and at the White House.

Companies need to look at their triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial). And consumers need to buy local. This is more than just trendy green speak. Spending money locally keeps money in your community and saves on transportation costs (and reduces air emissions, lowering the rates of respiratory ailments and health care costs).

But that’s the subject of another blog. Today, I want to look at the numbers:

(continued) Congress is close to agreeing to a $700 billion bailout -- which may or may not be enough.

That’s on top of the $600 billion (and counting) we’ve spent on the war in Iraq. So we’re talking $1.3 trillion. Minimum. A trillion dollars is a million millions, or a thousand billions.

Wait -- that’s not all. The government already committed to spend up to $200 billion for nationalization of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, and then there is the $85 billion loan for AIG. And let us not forget the “Stimulus Package” earlier this year which cost up to $150 billion.

We’re closing in on TWO TRILLION DOLLARS.

And that’s not even looking at the ongoing costs of the War in Iraq. CNN reported on Congressional testimony back in June that the cost may increase to $2.7 trillion over the next several years, once all costs are considered, including things like veteran health care and returning soldiers facing unemployment and foreclosures.

If we’re talking disaster, let’s remember that final estimates for damages by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike haven’t even been calculated – and we’re only halfway through the alphabet. Never mind the work that still needs to be done in New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

Clearly we are in trouble. But surely Congress has heard the expression: Don’t throw good money after bad.

Or maybe: Haste makes waste.

Much of the current crisis is due to the fact that so many Americans can’t pay their mortgage. So let’s have a moratorium on foreclosures.

Let’s pay workers a living wage, so they can pay off their debt.

Let’s pay farmers to produce healthy, pesticide-free food rather than spend billions in farm subsidies ($25 billion a year).

Let’s invest a fraction of the $700 billion on sustainable transportation, investing in clean energy and green collar jobs. Decrease our dependence on foreign oil and get out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whoops, I was going to focus on numbers.

A trillion. Twelve zeros.

I ran out of fingers to count on.

Just like we ran out of politicians to count on long ago.

Tags: lynne serpe

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