I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My letter to my congressman

Driving home tonight, I listened to the President talk about the need for the 700 billion dollar bailout package. A feeling of terror gripped me; I am deeply, sincerely afraid that he might get away with this. For a long time, some of my more liberal friends have been pitching me conspiracy theories about George Bush and how he has turned the US government into a big cookie jar for all his friends to loot. They point to all the no bid contracts in Iraq, including the contracts of American oil companies to manage Iraqi oil assests. For a long time, I've resisted these conspiracy theories, choosing to believe that Bush was most likely doing what he believed was best for the country, even when I deeply disagreed with him.

However, after listening to this bailout being debated for a week, I'm now convinced that this is, in fact, nothing but a scheme to enrich a small handful of wealthy, well-connected people at the public trough. 700 billion dollars is a staggering sum of money that is going to wind up in the hands of a relatively small number of people. I have yet to hear one economist say it's actually going to solve the financial problems on Wall Street. I've been hearing dire warnings that the market may fall to 8000 in the coming days if action isn't taken. My 401k is already taking hits. It' scary to look at. But, here's the thing: if the stock market falls to 8000, it's because it's only truly worth 8000. If it's actually worth more than 8000, then people like Warren Buffett are going to sweep in and buy everything they can lay their hands on, because it will, eventually, rise back to it's true value. The government's actions seem to be dedicated to blowing more air (or, in this case, money) into a bubble that is rapidly collapsing. Why, why, why, why does it make sense to anyone to keep a financial bubble growing past the point where it should naturally collapse in on itself? Bailing out Wall Street now is going to be the equivilent of giving all the people defaulting on subprime mortgages high-limit credit cards they can charge mortgage payments to--which, believe me, some people have no doubt done. Blowing money into the bubble now is only going to make the collapse in the future far, far worse.

So, for the first time in my life, I've written my congressman an email. I doubt it will change a damn thing. But, I encourage you, if you are opposed to this bailout, or even in favor of it, to take the time to write your congressman. It's easier than ever these days. Two minutes on google will produce your representative's webpage and email address. We may see congress write the largest check of all time within the next week. One reason we're in this mess is American's have been willfully blind to most actions of congress and the administration. If you are ever going to make your voice heard, this is the moment to do it.

Here's the letter I wrote:

Representative Price,

I would like to add my voice to the flood of email I'm sure you must be getting against the proposed 700 billion dollar bailout. This is being sold to the US public in the same doomsday terms used to sell the Iraq war--then, we were warned of nuclear weapons, today we are being warned of long term recession. But, saddling the taxpayers with another trillion dollars into debt is insane. The very heart of our financial crisis is that too many people have been buying things they can't afford on borrowed money. Homeowners have bought houses using loans they couldn't afford, banks have made the loans using the plentiful credit available on world markets, and the US government has been helping create an artificial boom economy by spending hundreds of billions of dollars more than it takes in each year in taxes, purchasing the illusion of prosperity today at the expense of future generations.

The time has come to obey the first law of holes and stop digging. If the stock market collapses and credit markets freeze up, there will be a lot of pain, but it's a neccessary hardship to endure to get our economy back on track. A tight credit market will kill subprime mortgages and marginal credit cards, but I predict that responsible borrowers will wind up highly sought after and the credit market that emerges will be more restrictive, but sounder. Borrowed wealth isn't true wealth.

If the stock market falls to 8000 or lower, that's because that's the true value of the market--I don't see it as government's responsibility to artificially inflate markets. Yes, a lot of people will take a serious financial hit as their 401k's fall. I had been looking at my 401k as recently as last year with daydreams of early retirement. But I'd rather not build my life around a lie, where my wealth depends on an ever growing bubble. Sometimes, you have to let the bubble pop to find out what the true value of things are.

The right thing for you to do in the coming days is to just say no to any bailout at all. I hope you will have the wisdom and judgement to resist the president and leaders in your own party to make this stand. If you choose to reply, I would like to know how you intend to vote on this bailout.

Thank you,
James Maxey


James Maxey said...

This morning I emailed Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr, my senators, as well.

Mr. Cavin said...

You should print it out and snail mail it, too. I know it's a pain, but there are persuasive stories about how email doesn't get the same level of recognition, with our elders, as the kinds of mail they are used to.

rastronomicals said...

I wrote Senators Bill Nelson D-FL, Mel Martinez R-FL, and Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz D-FL two days ago urging them not to pass Bush's bailout package.

When I saw both DailyKos on the (far) left and Newt Gingrich on the right come out against it, I knew that despite my lack of financial acumen my gut instincts about the thing had to be properly directed.

Nelson had a form letter he sent back saying that the solution was to amend Bush's plan and pass that, with "oversight" and "taxpayer guarantees."

And this, clearly, is what is going to happen.

If I understand (and shit, I may not), the argument being made by those who believe that action is absolutely required is that the the credit markets are going to freeze without this infusion, and the economy will tank even further because things like car loans and home loans and small business loans and loans to heavy industry are what truly drives growth.

Well, maybe. But if we just let these people fail, then only the people truly capable of making the loans will make them, and only to applicants truly capable of paying them back.
And what's the problem with that?

James Maxey said...

Cavin, I didn't snail mail because A: I'm sort of lazy and B: as of Wednesday, the news was all pointing to the notion that an agreement would be final on Thursday and voting could take place by Friday. Snail mail probably would have been sitting unopened. And, at this point, from what I've read, I and plenty of other people just like me were part of a tidal wave of opposition to this plan. I read this morning that calls and mail is running 90 to 1 against the bailout, both for Democrats and Republicans. If our representatives paid any attention at all to the people, this deal would be dead, dead, dead. It's a moment for our elected leaders to rise up in a stand of great moral cowardice and run in fear from this bill as if their jobs depend on it. Sometimes, obeying the will of the mob is just the right way to go.

Rastranomicals, there are excellent reasons for both the left and right to oppose this boondoggle. For those on the left, the idea that we'll bail out Wall Street firms with a trillion dollars, but won't spend a dime on working class people who are losing their homes is an outrage. On the far right, if they believe even one word they say about opposing socialism and respecting the free markets, there is no way they can justify giving away this money. If this passes, we should burn centrists in effigy!

I'm glad you wrote your representatives. And, your final point is dead on: Businesses that run on sound fundamentals aren't going to be wiped out by this, and neither are individuals who manage their finances intelligently. Sadly, this probably means a majority of people will suffer, since--and I know of polite way to say this--most people are about as smart as turnips when it comes to money.

But, propping up an unsubstainable cycle of borrowing for as far as the eye can see is insane. The day must come when the bills get paid. Perhaps this will be the great task of our generation.

rastronomicals said...

Ha! After hearing about the demonstration on Wall Street Thursday and then watching the two candidates dance around Lehrer's questions on the bailout plan Friday, I was inspired to write *back* to the Democratic Senator Nelson and issue a riposte of my own. I'm obviously partisan to the Democratic party, but I've meade that no secret here previously; I still thought my letter might be appreciated by the folks who run/read 'round this place.

Mr. Nelson, respectfully:

According to your email, "The importance of Congress taking timely action on a plan to give more than $700 billion to the Treasury to stabilize our financial and housing markets cannot be overstated."

No. Beyond the simple idea that a free market must allow its weaker elements to fail or else it's no longer a free market but rather a planned one, the fact is this country does not have 700 billion dollars to loan. China holds a trillion dollars of American debt. Yeah it'd be great to do this bailout thing, maybe, but fact is we cannot afford it.

With the war in Iraq having cost 600 billion over the last 5 years, the last thing we need is more longterm debt of that sort.

Now that Republicans are backing out the Dems must reconsider, because if the Dem controlled legislatures pass this when the public is 90:1 against it, it is the Dems who will get viewed as spendthrifts.

and if y'all pass it, they'd be right.