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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 30, 2008 at 4:52 PM

Readers react to the federal financial bailout proposal

Associated Press

Traders work on the New York Stock Exchange floor.

Editor, The Times:

What about protection for taxpayers?

If what I am reading in today’s papers is correct, there are more than a few things wrong about the taxpayer bailout plan. [“For outraged public, it’s a matter of distrust,” Times, page one, Sept. 30].

There should be sensible regulation. Currently there are no requirements for re-regulating the banking system and no listing of no-brainer reforms such as extending limits on capital and leverage to the shadow banking system.

A bailout that rescues Wall Street without re-regulation is a fool’s errand. If the bankers think their losses are covered and no limits are put on their gambles, they will soon be taking even greater risks. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wants the bailout now and regulation later. But when Wall Street is back on its feet, its lobby will fight relentlessly against regulation.

There should also be help for the economy off Wall Street. It is simply perverse that the president argues we need $700 billion tomorrow to save the banks but that it is “premature” to have another stimulus program for the real economy.

Layoffs are accelerating. States and localities are about to cut back on police, health care, schools and construction projects. We should be investing major sums in the real economy to put people back to work. If the recession worsens, the balance sheet of banks will worsen as more people default on credit card, auto and consumer loans.

The final piece missing in the current plan is the logical authority to allow bankruptcy courts to work out mortgages. This would require modifications on mortgages that are picked up in the bailout. I’d like to see more protection for the taxpayers in this bill.

Why aren’t the Democrats in Washington, D.C., doing more to have better protections in this bailout?

— Don Burch, Seattle

Take responsibility, taxpayers

I am adamantly opposed to any government action that would alleviate the consequences for lenders or borrowers who have made reckless and irresponsible financial decisions related to home mortgages or other means of credit.

While I understand the consequences of a recession and subsequent reductions in the availability of credit, I will not condone the use of hard-earned and promptly paid tax dollars to assist companies and executives who have profited in the near term. Nor do I feel sympathy for individuals who have lived a lifestyle beyond their means or failed to expend the necessary time and energy to understand their mortgage and credit obligations.

I don’t pass judgment on people with different spending and saving priorities, but I also think that it is extremely unjust to reward them for their decisions with money I’ve paid in taxes above and beyond my own saving and investment strategies.

I urge our political representatives to find market-based alternatives to the current financial crisis or at the very least structure government intervention to minimize the burden on taxpayers, provide strong oversight in financial markets going forward and to hold the companies and individuals responsible for contributing to their own hardships.

— Ben Johnson, Seattle

Close the markets

I completely oppose Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s bailout plan and clone proposals to resolve the current crisis in the banking industry. Instead, I support alternative solutions including the guidelines of transparency and oversight. It is time to rely on the advice of economists, not financiers.

The Bush administration refuses to regulate or insist upon transparency of transactions, uses the current liquidity crisis for political purposes and is demonstrating failure through a treasury power grab resulting in “economic martial law.”

Solutions must include congressional intervention. This would require calming the markets with a temporary closing. The plan should insist upon U.S. government-controlled interest in the investment market, complete transparency of ledgers, creating oversight regulation by separating commercial and investment functions of banking.

We learn from history; Congress must develop support for basic social infrastructure.

Shame is not part of my emotional glossary, but I am grateful my late mother, an accountant, is not alive to endure another economic meltdown due to the same power-scheme mentality.

— Alice Dubiel, Seattle

Point the finger at yourself

In the muddle over the chaos in our economy many are pointing fingers at the current administration, Wall Street, banks and CEOs.

The slogans and signs advocating to “protect Main Street from Wall Street” are particularly ironic.

It seems we have forgotten that a share of the blame belongs to those on Main Street who “bought” houses with no down payment, lied on their loan applications and basically intended to get “something for nothing” by selling those houses at huge profits because the housing market was going to continue its upward spiral.

— Diane Matlock, Seattle

No corporation left behind

Since the beginning of child-labor laws American leaders have understood that, if left to themselves, large American corporations act in the interest of the bottom line — not the American public.

Unfortunately for American children, present-day lawmakers at the state and national levels suffered a memory lapse when they ushered in wide-sweeping standards and testing legislation in the forms of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) at the behest of none other than big business.

Perhaps the need for a “No Corporation Left Behind” bailout will nudge federal lawmakers to revisit business round-table propagated NCLB mandates. And perhaps the collapse of Washington Mutual will jar state leaders into remembering that Washington state big business has been the entity lobbying to maintain the collapsing WASL.

— Juanita Doyon, Spanaway

What goes up must come down

My husband and I are both in our 60s with a moderately good income. We cannot find an affordable home on reasonable terms in this inflated market so we rent. We paid off our new van a year after buying it and I am still driving my 1998 Chevy. We have no debt and are building up modest savings for retirement someday. I am working on a master’s degree, hoping that will allow me to work indefinitely so that my older husband can eventually retire.

My sister in rural Oklahoma, with severe asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and no health insurance, makes minimum wage doing phone work from home. In the winter she does the phone work from bed under three layers of blankets with a wood stove burning in the corner. She has discontinued her cable and garbage service, getting by with local TV, recycling and a burn barrel. She is independent and happy, and she somehow manages to pay her modest mortgage every month.

This is a description of middle-class Americans. We work hard and live within our means. We have no sympathy for people who thought they had to have more and more. I have even less sympathy for the greedy fools who enabled this behavior and are now hollering “uncle.” I intensely disagree with those who think the rate of growth is the key indicator of a healthy society.

It’s time to stop this craziness. $700 billion to bail out fools and greedy lenders? There are so many places where we could put this money and have more important long-term benefits for everyone.

Our education and health systems are in shambles. Some law-enforcement agencies are so squeezed on funding that they are laying off officers.

We’re going to pay now or pay later. Kill this knee-jerk bill and find a solution that places the pain where it belongs and benefits everyone else.

— Mary Ann Chapman, Seattle

Comments | More in Business, Economy, Election, Politics

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