No Bailouts for Billionaires!

A Fight Back! Editorial, September 2008

President Bush is driving a $700 billion bailout of the billionaires and multi-millionaires who sit atop the largest financial crisis in history. This rewards criminals and gangsters who need to be taken away and punished. It is outrageous that the rich guys, the kings of capital who are responsible for the crisis, are going to be given a free pass and then line their pockets with taxpayers’ money. The bankers and CEOs should be forced to declare bankruptcy and then imprisoned for their crimes of spreading poverty and throwing people out of their homes. Things are so decrepit that billionaire Warren Buffet bought $5 billion worth of Goldman Sachs stocks, 20% of its value, because he is counting on Bush’s bailout to make himself a pile of money. Warren Buffet does not need a bailout! We say, “No bailouts for billionaires!”

How did the billionaires get from the economic boom to the severest crisis ever? The bosses are certainly greedy when it comes to profits and stingy when it comes to workers’ pay, but this alone does not explain it. The Wall Street investors take risks with other people’s money, but this does not explain it either. Wall Street bounced right back at the end of the week, while foreclosures and bankruptcies continue to stalk many Americans.

The real problem is the system. The problem is capitalism. It concentrates wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands, driving down wages at home, while attempting to dominate and exploit other countries. Capitalism is based on profit. Profit is what the capitalists, as a class, skim from the working class who produce all the goods and services in society. Eventually the system has a big crisis; a big bust follows the economic boom. There is a crisis of overproduction where the many cannot buy what they need even though it is for sale right in front of us. Bush, who did everything he could to promote the housing and financing boom, said in his national speech, “Eventually, the number of new houses exceeded the number of people willing to buy them.”

That line was buried amongst 12 minutes of lies. In the same speech he blamed the collapse of the financial system on the folks down the street who can’t pay their mortgage. As usual, Bush thinks people are too stupid to understand that the real sources of the crisis are his friends on Wall Street mixing mortgages in foreclosure with mortgages that are fine, to create financial instruments that they could buy, sell and trade like compulsive gamblers in Las Vegas. He blamed working people for taking out mortgages they couldn’t afford. The problem is the companies who made the mortgages – knowing the people who took them could not afford them – in order to profit from the closing costs. It is all about making more and more profit without any work.

This $700 billion crisis is, in part, shaped by Reaganomics. For 30 years, Reaganomics has meant slashing regulations and systematically transferring wealth to the rich while destroying unions and the standard of living for working people. The ruling class, Democrats and Republicans, are likely to ‘come together’ to bail out the big companies. If they do it will mean even more pain for working people. Most likely the Treasury will print money to cover the bailout. That will mean that every dollar we have is worth even less than it is now – inflation. With inflation comes even higher gas and food prices, more foreclosures as people are squeezed to their limit and unemployment.

Every CEO, banker, and big business tycoon is united about one thing – the Bailout. The politicians of both parties are saying the American taxpayer should bail out the rich guys. John McCain argues for a bailout with more oversight from less regulators. Sounds strange because it is strange. Obama is arguing for the bailout too, only adding that ordinary people need ‘relief’ and small tax cuts so they can spend the money and stimulate the economy. Sure, everyone wants an extra check, but only the rich people will get really big ones and everyone else will get small ones. The problem is neither argument addresses the fact that the system does not work. Those taxes will be taken back from workers by hook or by crook. It is a system of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. We work for the system, the system does not work for us!

There is already talk from conservative pundits and the media about socialism. It is meant to confuse people. A few far-right politicians are saying the proposed bailouts are ‘socialism.’ This is wrong. Socialism is not a rescue package for bankers so capitalism can continue to ruin people’s lives. Socialism is a system that puts people first and it will replace capitalism upon the success of a revolution. Under socialism, the capitalist class – made up of billionaires and millionaires – is stripped of its wealth, its land, factories and big businesses. The rich are no longer in charge. Socialism requires the working class and their allies to be in power and to rule society for the interests of working people. This crisis will cause thoughtful people to start considering the alternative to capitalism, which is actual socialism.

The policies of the Bush administration helped to speed the crisis along. People will remember Bush for the disaster in Iraq, his criminal inaction during Hurricane Katrina and now for his attempt to bail out of the bankers. Bush started office with a $200 billion surplus, but is now $400 billion in the hole. When the $700 billion (that the government does not have) is subtracted, the deficit will be $1.1 trillion.

Besides tax cuts for the rich, roads and bridges to nowhere, subsidies for corporate farming and other freebies to big business, Bush spent $600 billion on the occupation of Iraq – killing, maiming and ruining the lives of millions. Everyone knows that the wealthy were enthusiastic about invading Iraq to topple a powerful and independent government, seize Iraqi oil and dominate the Middle East. The Iraqi resistance, supported by the Iraqi people, foiled their plans. The rich are responsible for the disaster in Iraq and the rich are responsible for the disaster at home. Iraqis and Americans are united in the face of the same enemy. While Iraqis are defending their homes, Americans are fending off sheriffs with foreclosure notices.

Instead of throwing good money after bad, we want more government assistance to low-income people and demand a moratorium on home foreclosures . Let the bankers move into modest homes and live with the daily pressures and harassment from bill collectors that every reader of this article faces. Why are working people held responsible for the failure of the system while the rich go free?

We are united with the rest of the world in putting an end to the Republican agenda of war, corruption and repression. The rich people, the monopoly capitalist class, need to be defeated at every turn. They are incompetent and criminal. The rich have no right to rule this country.

No to the Bailout!