One thing our crypto-fascist teacher, Mr Squibb, taught us in our American government classes at Milford Academy was that the Great Depression was brought on by panic. (He also taught us that FDR was a Russian communist socialist agent, but even at 16 I knew better.) Which makes the smirking chimp's performance in his address last night even more despicable.
What President Shrub was out to do was scare the population into demanding their legislators pass the $700 billion bailout the merchant bankers need, to reward them for doing exactly what the regulations passed in the FDR years, and repealed under a Republican congress and a 'third-way' Democratic president with a merchant banker Treasury Secretary (Robert Rubin, lest we forget) only 12 years ago, used to stop them from doing. This will come as news to John McCain, who has just discovered those greedy bad apples, decades after he tried to bail out his wife's business partner Charles Keating (note too that a major beneficiary of the Keating bailout was the third of the three Bush brothers, Neil, the one too dumb to even go into politics, who escaped with a reprimand and a 'stiff fine' of $50,000 after letting his buddies loot $330 mill from Silverado Savings & Loan) when the newly-deregulated savings-and-loan banks were doing the same sort of thing on a lesser scale, and somehow escaped Senate censure.
Twelve years was all it took for the supposedly 'self-regulating' markets to self-destruct, and the main reason Bush is now trying to fan the flames of financial fear is to stampede Congress into passing the bailout, which might well be the best course of action, but isn't the only alternative (see James K. Galbraith in the Washington Post, linked here). Plus, the Bush package comes without any commenurate protection for the future. He and his treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, another merchant banker(and isn't it funny how, when they want to make these guys seem like humans they give them nicknames, now he's 'Hank' Paulson, a la 'Ken' Starr, just regular guys), don't want Congress demanding an equity position in the banks the taxpayer bails out. They don't want a return to the days of strict oversight that might prevent such a meltdown in the future. They don't want controls on excess rewards for bankers taking ridiculous risks with investors' money. And they certainly don't want any taxpayers' money going to help, uh, taxpayers themselves. They want to keep government off their backs until they need taxpayers' money, and they want to keep that money away from the people who worked for it. Note that Congress has already pushed aside the $50 billion economic stimulus package which included increased food stamps and state medicaid funds, in their hurry to toss cash at the guys in the gated communities.
Warren Buffet knows what's going on, and he bought into Goldman Sachs, in order to reap the harvest. As Buffet once said, 'If there's a class war going on in this country, my class is winning.' William Grieder in the Nation had the best solution for any buyout: If taxpayer money is used, we want the same deal Buffett got." Buffett's deal was preferred stock with 10 percent annual return and the right to convert to stock if the stock takes off after the bailout. Taxpayers should get the same deal.
Bush and Rove live in the Goebbelsian world of the Big Lie, where Fear is the best motivator. Remember FDR saying 'we've nothing to fear except fear itself'? Contrast that with Bush: 'FEAR!'