Wednesday, October 01, 2008

But I don't have $700 billion!

Maybe you’ve heard that the economy is shambles, that banks are failing, and something about a $700 billion bailout? How much is $700 billion? One way to look at it:

NASA in fiscal year 2009 will launch several missions into space and pay for hundreds of people to operate a host of space telescopes and even remote robots on Mars and run a PR and media department that puts most large corporations to shame. The agency's budget: $17.6 billion, or 2.5 percent of the bailout sum.


The bailout amount is more than the entire military budget and the entire social security budget. And since the budgets are down to the wire, an extra $700 billion to pay for the bailout would mean printing 700 billion new dollars.

Most people, myself included, are not sure what’s really going on. However, we are all a little like Naomi Campbell, who, upon Gianni Versace’s death, said, “It’s been a terrible thing…for me. Yes, I am worried about my own ass in all of this! And I’m worried about my mom and dad, who are near retirement and should be retired, as well as my grandmother who lives off her retirement. What’s going to happen to their money?

We all know this mess has something to do with shady mortgages, toxic debt that has lead to bank failures and plummeting stocks, and many of us are seeing it on paper as our 401K’s and pensions turn into dust. Similarly, the people in charge – our politicians in Washington – largely have little understanding themselves. You know both presidential candidates are shitting their pants trying to figure out what they're supposed to say about this. There’s a lot of finger pointing, a lot of people blaming the other’s policies. What is truly laughable though, is that so many of them believe in a magical marketplace that goes up and down but always carries forward and needs no government intervention. But this is crisis is an exception! The market’s magical powers have failed and since this is really serious, we now have to do something! Pony up taxpayers!

I don’t know whether to be for or against the “bailout” which they’re now calling the “rescue plan”. Part of me wants to think that the bailout has no benefit to me because, for one thing, I don't have anything like stocks or a savings to really rescue from whatever it is that's happening. I do of course realize that Whatever It Is That's Happening is going to effect everyone for years to come, in many ways from getting credit to food prices to gas etc. I’ve been following both sides’ arguments about what to do. I’m in the midst of buying a house, have mad credit card debt, and have actively began looking for supplemental income via a part time job because I do know that the shit is about to hit the fan, and it is going to be a while before we are no longer feeling the effects of this mess.

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