Guest Post: Veterans Get Lip Service, Bankers Get Billions & We Get Foreclosures
Submitted by Dylan Ratigan
One thing about doing a two hour show
that heavily covers both the financial crisis and the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan is that you notice on a daily basis the shocking
juxtaposition between the lucky Wall Streeters and the unlucky
We all know at this point that our banking system is being used as
an unregulated bonus-seeking mechanism for bankers, now underwritten by
taxpayers with $23.7 trillion worth of national wealth.
Bankers lent pretend money to home buyers to award themselves actual
money in bonuses -- making home prices balloon and, in the process,
bankrupting America's treasury, currency, the states, and many of its
To simply let the housing market rapidly correct itself (or more
likely over-correct) would result in massive societal disruption,
possible violence and unnecessary suffering.
So while we slowly attempt to close the taxpayer-funded bank casinos
and try to restore the basic rules of investment and lending in our
economy, we have difficult decisions to make. Unfortunately, our only
choice for a less jarring social transition so far has been to
artificially adjust the real prices of our homes via government
guarantees to banks (for bad mortgages and losing gambling bets) -- or
relatively arbitrary handouts to home buyers.
What did these people do to deserve the handout?
How do you feel about a Wall Street Banker who has been renting an
apartment here in New York and this year combined the bonus money he
made on bundling new taxpayer-sponsored Fannie Mae CDS with a
first-time home buyers tax credit gift from the taxpayers to buy the
penthouse in his building?
Meanwhile, we have already been at war for 8 years with no end in
sight. World War II was 5 years. We are fighting these wars with the
fewest number of soldiers in modern U.S. History. To avoid incorporating a politically unpopular draft, we deploy the same soldiers five or six times with comparatively minuscule breaks in between.
However, the dire state of the economy has been a boon to military recruitment, but I am not sure if we will ever see the Wall Street bank scammers claim their rightful credit for that.
So instead of using these bad- (Wall Street) to- arbitrary (first
time home buyers) ways to pump money into rescuing our housing market,
let's give it to those who are truly deserving of handouts: our
servicemen and women.
I propose that we immediately enact the following:
- Give every single man and woman that is fighting for
us a housing credit of $50,000, with the caveat that the credit must be
used by someone within two years.
- Make it so that the credits are completely fungible,
meaning that if the veteran doesn't wish to buy a house, he or she can
sell the credit to someone who does -- and keep the money. If the
reselling of gift cards on Ebay is any indication, I am sure there will
be a thriving market where soldiers could probably get pretty close to
90 cents on the dollar for their credit.
Considering the roughly 2 million veterans
who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan so far, this would give a much
needed $100 billion boost to the housing market. Just as a template for
comparison, Goldman Sachs (albeit it doing "God's work") and the other
complicit banks like JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley will pay $29.4 billion in personal bonuses this year.
In reporting on this financial crisis, I have been most surprised by
the blatant disregard that our politicians and even some journalists
have shown for the most fundamental American notion of fairness. I
don't think handing taxpayer trillions to some of the least worthy
individuals is something that our country will stand for, regardless of
what the current incumbents think.
If we must resort to handouts to save our country, let's at least put them in the hands of the most deserving.