e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


an open letter

President Bush,

I'm trying to understand what you meant when you repeated the mantra "the fundamentals of our economy are sound" and then, last night, said that the entire economy is in "danger." Also, why did you tell Americans that spending more money was their patriotic duty even as many were going deeper into debt?

Now that you have proposed spending $700 billion of taxpayers' money to bail out the financial sector, do you still claim to oppose burdening American people with taxes? Do you still claim to be a proponent of "small government"? Isn't this $700 billion plan a case of government intervention in the marketplace?

Related to those matters, do you still support deregulation of the financial sector? Do you think your party's nominee should continue to express his support for deregulation? Or do you reckon he should suspend his campaign and thereby avoid questions about his leadership in the deregulation movement?

Mr. President, I agree with you that those who took on huge mortgage debts made foolish choices. This morning during my commute to work, callers to a local radio show here in Detroit talked about earning annual salaries of $35,000 and buying houses that cost two and three times more than my home. The other callers mostly complained about how unfair it was that they had to bail out those indviduals. Clearly, everyday people made bad decisions.

But I don't want them to live on the streets as a result of their bad choices. I don't want them (and me!) to lose our retirement accounts. I adhere to an ideology that you frequently say is outdated, outmoded, and failed--an ideology rooted in the belief that "Great Society" initiatives can lift up members of the culture. Am I resentful that I pay my mortgage and don't need bailing out? No way. The two people in my household who pay that mortgage both collected lots of federal financial aid when we were in college. So resentfulness would be hypocritical on our parts. Plus, while I acknowledge that foolish or greedy decisions on the part of everyday people contributed to this problem, I also acknowledge that banks and mortgage companies became predators, making a buck off foolish choices, preying on the vulnerable.

Based on your $700 billion proposal, it sounds like perhaps you also believe the government has a (sometimes expensive) role to play in people's lives. I'm glad that finally perhaps the two of us share some common ground. But I'm thinking maybe you should say that you now believe the government sometimes must be "big" and acknowledge that giving corporate America a blank check was a mistake. Maybe you should admit that you were wrong when you advocated for a "pure," unregulated, "free" market. You know how you used to always say "freedom isn't free"? Maybe your new mantra should be "free markets aren't free."

Just saying.

1 comment:

Michael Faris said...

This is fantastic. I love how contradictory politicians are. I also like that you used the word reckon.