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Thursday, Oct 2, 2008, 8:34 pm

Sirota On Our Crazy-ocracy

By Jarrett Dapier

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Sirota continues to be the clearest, most attuned voice responding to the current financial meltdown (and the attendant antics of Congress):

Is it possible America has become a Crazy-ocracy? That is, is it possible we aren't ruled by merely the stupid (an Idiocracy) or the corrupt (a Kleptocracy) - we are ruled by genuinely insane people?

I don't mean this as a flippant joke - I'm dead serious about this, as is former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill today.As Bloomberg News reports, O'Neill said the $700 billion Paulson plan is "crazy" with potentially "awful" consequences for the economy. "Doesn't this seem like lunacy to you?" he asked.

Well, yes - actually it does, and not just to me, but to many of the nation's leading economists, financial analysts, business journalists, and investors. Many of these people say this bailout could actually make this situation far worse, and many of them also have terrific, commonsense, and historically proven ideas about how to structure an economic rescue package (the newest one is from The Nation's William Greider). Indeed, most bailout proponents (like Paul Krugman) acknowledge this plan will likely be unsuccessful and that the public advocates for it haven't explained how it will work. Yet, many of those proponents - especially those in Congress - say they support it anyway because of the ultimate ideology of the truly psychotic: Namely, that somebody has to do something, no matter what that something is. They are pulling the classic move we saw during the lead-up to the Iraq War - officially supporting it, but also giving speeches of skepticism so they can cover their asses with "I told you so" haughtiness in the future (and please, don't even try to justify this bill as a respectable bargain - spending 5 percent of our entire economy - $700 billion - in exchange for a few small but admirable renewable energy tax credits is not a good deal...I've heard of thinking minimally, but that's thinking microscopically).

And yet, the political system seems totally immune - even hostile to - basic sanity. O'Neill and Joseph Stiglitz, both bailout critics, are top advisers to Barack Obama on this bailout issue, but the Democratic nominee keeps insisting that it is unpatriotic to oppose this bill. John McCain is even crazier - saying that the bill is going to "put us on the brink of economic disaster" right after he voted for it. And worst of all, both Obama and McCain are insisting that the bill just hasn't been sold properly as a "rescue" instead of a "bailout" - the implication being that public opposition is borne out of stupidity rather than sanity.

Take action now. Call your representative and demand he or she vote against this insane bail-out. Sign this petition, too.

Jarrett Dapier is a former assistant publisher at In These Times. Previous work for ITT includes interviews with playwright Christopher Shinn and Fugazi guitarist, Ian Mackaye. He currently works with teens at the Evanston Public Library where he runs a recycled drumming program and directs stage adaptations of young adult literature. He lives in Evanston, IL.

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