What's so wrong about mass hara-kiri?

A reader makes a sharp observation. Plus: Joe Stiglitz doesn't like the bailout

By Andrew Leonard
Published October 2, 2008 11:57PM (EDT)

Reader Dick Dworkin contributes a comment that made me laugh.

I wrote, earlier today, "I have no doubt that the House Republicans would rather commit mass hara-kiri than sign on to what would, without exaggeration, be a socialist semi-nationalization of the financial industry."


OK, so what is the problem, sounds like a win-win to me if it can be arranged.


In related news, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz hates the bailout. In "The Economist's Voice," an online-only journal put out by the Berkeley Electronic Press, he persuasively details all the reasons why the bailout is a bad, bad idea. He asserts that the view that the Paulson plan is "a confidence trick on the American people" is "at least partially correct." He outlines a long list of policy actions that would attack the root problems ordinary Americans face -- changes in the bankruptcy laws, how mortgage tax deductions are handled, and direct government ownership of mortgages. All good stuff, all things that he also acknowledges will not happen under the current administration.

Joe Stiglitz is one of my favorite economists, his work on globalization has profoundly shaped my own views, and he is a dependable critic of how global capitalism is currently constructed. His critique of Wall Street and Hank Paulson's efforts to fix the problems ailing financial markets over the last year and a half has been consistently scathing.

So what did he say to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on "Democracy Now," this morning?

Well, I think it remains a very bad bill. It is a disappointment, but not a surprise, that the administration came up with a bill that is again based on trickle-down economics. You throw enough money at Wall Street, and some of it will trickle down to the rest of the economy. It's like a patient suffering from [some words missing from transcript] giving a massive blood transfusion while there's internal bleeding; it doesn't do anything about the basic source of the hemorrhaging, the foreclosure problem. But that having been said, it is better than doing nothing, and hopefully after the election, we can repair the very many mistakes in it.

Joe Stiglitz is also one of Barack Obama's economic advisors. Let's hope he can do some ear-bending, should Obama be elected the next President of the United States.

Also: I was dismayed to learn today that over at the far-right wing blog, Red State, contributors have been supporting the bailout plan. I suppose that if in the Senate, Bernie Sanders and Jim DeMint can find common ground in their opposition to the plan, then it should not be inconceivable that Red State and How the World Works would intersect on some issue. But I still feel tainted and dirty, and may have to rethink my entire position from the bottom up.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Barack Obama Globalization How The World Works Wall Street