Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bailout: the $810 billion bombshell

There was a great op-ed written by Joel Berg in last week's Washington Post. He wrote from a social services advocate's perspective on the looming government bailout of failing financial institutions. While I acknowledge that some remedy is needed for the mess that lenders have gotten themselves into by thinking the housing bubble would never burst. I am nonetheless baffled by the shear magnitude of the cost. Now, we are learning that the $700billion initially proposed has grown to $810billion (...because of pork?!) -- I am forced to reflect on what this money actually means. Our politicians can talk about the need for social protections, serving "the people", providing for families, communities, and the country. But talk is cheap. True values are revealed by where we spend our money (and our time). Thus, this bailout may (I hope) mean more than rescuing troubled Wall Street investors; rather, it represents a greater value of protection of our livelihoods and lifestyles -- being able to own and keep one's home, start a new business, invest in our children's future education. The details and implementation of this bailout bill will further reveal the underlying values and priorities of those whom we entrust the future of our nation. 

Back to reflection upon this $810billion. What would I do with $810 billion? Would I provide food for the hungry? Legal counsel for the oppressed? Food for the malnourished? Mobile technology for the isolated? Job training for low-wage workers? Bed nets in malaria territory? Funds for non-profit organizations? 

What would you do with $810 billion dollars?

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