Thursday, April 9, 2009

You're Completely In Charge -- Of You

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

Banking is a good business that helps us individually and collectively. Good banks make it through hard times. Always have. Witness Wells Fargo's $3 bil in profits just announced. They tried to decline TARP money but were pressured to accept it. Why? Can't make the others look bad by comparison, I guess. Makes it too easy to ask why we're giving all that bailout cash to bad banks. My own bank, Umpqua Bank, makes money and treats its customers like family. Shouldn't that be the norm?

Well, why are we giving away all that money? If a bank, car maker, securities dealer or whatever is failing, let them fail. That's how capitalism works. That's how America works. If an industry has worth, the remaining competitors will pick up the pieces. Want some proof? Banks are already buying "toxic assets" on the open market. Maybe they're not so toxic after all. If an industry is marginal in the first place, why should the government want to prop it up?

Investors make money and they lose money. Workers get jobs and we lose jobs. These are universals. We don't make parts for non-existent refrigerator manufacturers just to keep a ramshackle plant open, we move on and do something else. We don't have cradle-to-grave security because we rejected it as a society in favor of individual opportunity to succeed.

The mother of a friend of mine in Macedonia was a collective factory worker, a weaver in a textile factory. The collective failed and the new government's privitization plan sold her, on credit, a couple of the same looms she had worked on in the factory. She set up a tiny shop in her home and has expanded it repeatedly. She worked hard and succeeded where the collective had failed. Her rugs and woven products found a ready market for quality textiles at good prices both at home and abroad. I'm proud to own a small example and I'm proud of her success.

Her family raises goats, too. Hard work but it pays off in sales of animals, milk, cheese and whatever other goat products there are. BTW, goat cheese is far better than the mass-produced cheese-like substances that assault our taste buds. Try it. Good stuff.

The point is, we are all responsible for our lives and our futures. You aren't the government's problem. It refuses to take responsibility for you. You aren't too big to fail. They don't care.

We will fail, all of us. That's another universal. We all will experience sorrow and frustration and pain. We'll all be scared. The measure of us all is "Then what did you do?" My friend in Macedonia couldn't go on welfare. They don't have that concept. She picked up the pieces and charted a new course for her life and she has succeeded. She didn't get TARP money or a bailout... and she didn't give up. She has lots of lessons for all of us.

Sing it, Sinatra:

Will you remember the famous men
Who have to fall and then rise again,
So take a deep breath
Pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
And start all over again.

And "tranche"? Nothing you can't spell will ever work. -- Will Rogers

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