Yesterday on CNBC, reporter Rick Santelli went off on a tyrade about the housing bailout plan. As he stood on the floor of the CBOE in Chicago, he managed to yell loud enough to attract the attention and vocal support of the people working around him. He had nothing positive to say about Obama's plan, and compared the US to Cuba on the cusp of the communist revolution. What was most interesting to me was his proclamation at the end that the poeple behind him represented "a statistical cross section of America".
Who works at the CBOE? Who were the people standing behind him hooting their support? You got it--white guys in their mid-30s. No person of color, no women, no person over 40. This is Rick's "cross section". These are people who are extremely well paid. They get benefits and perks that most of us can only imagine. The point is not whether they deserve what they get, but whether they have a clue as to what the rest of America's workers are up against. All they know is that they don't want someone else getting a hand from the government for signing on to a mortgage they now can't afford.
I've no doubt some people just plain overspent and some never had the funds or the discipline or experience to pay a monthly mortgage. Do I want to bail them out, when I have been very disciplined and played by the rules? Not exactly. But I didn't want to bail out the banks and wealthy CEOs either, and I did. We all did. We have come to a place in this country where we allow the expressions of contempt for the common man to stand without challenge. We talk about pay cuts for the auto workers, but say nothing about the pay for the average worker on Wall Street. Those who benefit from this mindset (the banks, traders, financial advisors, and yes, the CNBC reporters) cry "Communism!" "Socialism!" in an effort to scare us all from seeing the truth. "Pay no attention to that rich white guy behind the curtain. Let's kick the common man while he's down!" What is fair for one should be fair for all. I don't like bailouts at all, and wish none of them had happened. But now that we've taken this road, we can't use it to continue the Bush policies of benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor. The election was a referendum on that policy.