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Bread and circuses

From this morning’s Wall Street Journal:

‘No’ Votes Came From All Directions

The fatal “no” votes to the financial rescue package came from a strange-bedfellows coalition of lawmakers, from the most conservative to the most liberal members of the House, with a large number of representatives from low-income districts angry that Wall Street seems to be getting handouts while people getting tossed out of homes would get minimal aid.

One common strand that tied some of the diverse opponents together: a tough re-election fight. Eighteen of the 21 most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election, and 10 of the 15 Democrats in the closest races voted against the $700 billion financial rescue, illustrating the political hazards of bailing out Wall Street without offering an equally generous hand to taxpayers.

To me, this illustrates that the members of the House aren’t really thinking about doing what’s best for the country, even if it’s unpopular, but just care about protecting their jobs. It does make me wonder how many of those “no” votes would have been “yes” votes if we weren’t only 5 weeks from Election Day?

As Juvenal said in Roman times, “Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.”

If everything was left solely to the people, do you think we’d be paying any taxes? But without tax revenue, how would vital government programs, such as say … Defense … be funded? Taxes are not popular, but are vitally important to ensure that our government can continue to function.

Putting together a plan, even an initially flawed plan that can be revised down the road, is vital to getting our economy back on track. The current ad hoc approach causes more uncertainty, more panic, more consolidation, less competition, and certainly doesn’t seem to be working.

What is going to happen if the Citigroup, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase acquisitions of WaMu, Wachovia, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch lead to their own financial troubles?