So how do you fairly parcel out to a nation the costs incurred by countless individuals who failed to act responsibly?
Thats the basic question before Congress and President Bush as they debate a $700 billion bailout of the nations financial system - a system largely in dire straits because so many Americans - from Wall Street CEOs to credit-hungry consumers - simply couldnt say no.
As in no to potentially massive (but risky) profits made via private investment banks. As in no to too many mortgage lenders who relentlessly pursued highly risky ways to profit off people who had no business (much less the collateral) to buy homes. And even no from common consumers to those endless offers of credit cards and the buy-it-now, pay-later mentality. ...
If supporters of a federal bailout are correct, the U.S. economy could grind to a halt as banks, many of them already facing bad balance sheets, tighten their credit and lending practices amid fears of more risk and less return.
On the other hand, is America - land of freedom and free markets - really prepared to have its federal government become its main banker? Do we really want government to buy up a businesss bad debt now for a piece of future profits later? Do we trust them to do that?
And what about struggling homeowners? Its one thing to help a victim of predatory lending practices. Its another to bail out someone who simply couldnt say no to the latest free credit offer.
Its those type of things that cannot be overlooked as the House, Senate and White House determine the federal governments role in this financial crisis. But the important questions that need to be asked (and answered) involve issues such as who will have oversight of government-purchased properties and assets? Who will be doing the valuing of these bad debts? What will be the transparency of the governments role? And perhaps most important, how will taxpayers hold these government entities accountable?
Answers to such questions are absolutely crucial before adopting any sort of bailout package.
- St. Cloud Times
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