Saturday, October 11, 2008

A good explanation of how the country got into this financial mess...

...came recently from George F. Will:

"...a timeless political trope is: Government should budget the way households supposedly do, conforming outlays to income. But the crisis came partly because so many households decided that it would be jolly fun to budget the way government does, hitching outlays to appetites.
Beneath Americans' perfunctory disapproval of government deficits lurks an inconvenient truth: They enjoy deficits, by which they are charged less than a dollar for a dollar's worth of government. Conservatives participate in this, even though deficits fuel government's growth by obscuring its cost. The people can emulate the government because credit has been democratized. Democratization of everything is supposedly an unquestionable good, but a blizzard of credit cards (1.5 billion of them, nine per cardholder), subsidized loans and cheap money has separated the pleasure of purchasing from the pain of paying. Furthermore, the entitlement mentality fostered by the welfare state includes a felt entitlement to a standard of living untethered from savings."

Bingo. Read the whole thing--Will has been very, very critical of Republicans in congress for the past several years (and often rightly so--the GOP in Congress became far too willing to be free spenders). But here he's very sympathetic to the majority of Republicans' rejection of the first bailout bill. That vote may go down in history as a good one for the GOP (one of the few they've had recently).

And by the way, maybe Americans are starting to wise up--a recent poll shows that, by over a 20 point margin, Americans strongly oppose the bailout plan eventually passed.