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Patriotism Under Bush Means Getting Screwed Again

Like most reckless idealists these days, I live in hope that at least once in my lifetime I will see the US Government do something of importance that does not screw the average American.  Is that too much to ask of the world’s most powerful government?

I suppose it is.  Today, The Washington Post reports that more than half of the 163 billion dollars we Americans have loaned our banks (via the Treasury Department) will be used to pay dividends to their shareholders.

No one can hear you scream in cyberspace:  It could help at this moment to remember that.

Just to be sure we are all on the same page here: This to all appearances means the Treasury has sold us — and possibly our children — into debt to pay dividends.

According to The Post, the Treasury’s excuse for allowing the banks to use our money to pay dividends to shareholders is simple:  The banks told the Treasury they would not accept any bailout money unless they could pay dividends.

Banks to Treasury: “We won’t play with you unless you let us screw the American taxpayer.”

Treasury to Banks: “Wow! We thought we could negotiate with you, but you guys mean business!”

Treasury to the People: “The banks forced us to sell you down the river.  Not our fault!”

Banks to the People: “It’s only fair the shareholders who invested in us are not penalized for their poor judgment.”

Never mind this:

“The Treasury’s approach contrasts with decisions by foreign governments, including Britain and Germany, to require banks that accept public investments to suspend dividend payments until the government is repaid. The U.S. government similarly required Chrysler to suspend its dividend payments as a condition of the government’s 1979 bailout.”

Yeah, like so many other reckless idealists, I live for the day the world’s most powerful government has the balls to do what the British and German governments had the balls to do: Negotiate a reasonably fair deal with their banks.

2 thoughts on “Patriotism Under Bush Means Getting Screwed Again”

  1. I think you’re giving the government a bit too much credit here in implying that they’re simply weak “negotiators.” Obviously there was no real intent to negotiate at all.

    The whole rhetorical logic of the bailout was that banks were so desperate for cash that we – and by “we” I mean essentially the world economy, since it will now live or die with America’s – absolutely had to bail them out. It goes against all the basic principles of negotiation, or even common sense, that the banks would be in a position to “drive a hard bargain.”

    No “balls” were required for this. All the Treasury had to say was, “If you really want this money, you’ll agree not to pay dividends.” What were the supposedly desperate banks going to do, walk away?


  2. Hi Rev Dave! Welcome to the blog!

    I agree there seems to have been no real attempt to negotiate with the bankers. I thought I conveyed that point in my post, but I guess not. Good point!


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