Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Own Worst Enemy

The goal of many groups who engage in terrorism against the US and the west is to unsettle us, to shake up our systems, to prove that we are weak, to take us down through attacking our way of life. Not long after 9/11, which had a major impact on many companies which had offices in the World Trade Center, the stock market fell 500 points in one day. There was a slight downturn in the economy as well, but it did recover, and for a while after 9/11 it seemed that the attacks had done exactly what the terrorists didn't want: they had brought us together as a country.

Yesterday the stock market fell over 700 points in a single day. The reason? Terrorism? War? An attack on the computer banking system? No, it was due to the regulations (or lack thereof) related to the financial industry in this country. It was due to regulations being repealed to make it easier to blur the lines between insurance, corporate and commercial dealings. It was due to an idealistic view that everyone should be on the property latter, regardless if they would be able to pay the money back or not. It was due to overwhelming greed on the part of some financial higher-ups who decided to mask the risk of these investments thinking that they could get away with it, not realizing that many people were doing the same thing and that if everyone was found out and things fell apart there wouldn't be anything there to catch them. Who is responsible for all this?

Some will argue the fault lies with the Bush administration and its economic policies. Some will argue the Clinton administration and its push for more sub-prime loans. (The Glass-Steagall Act which regulated speculation was repealed in 1999). Some claim it goes all the way back to the Carter administration which is responsible for the creation of these lower income loans which are now clogging up the financial system. But there is one thing in common among all these administrations or possible reason: They are all American. This isn't Al Qaeda getting involved and messing up our investments, this is US. We are the cause of all this. And some my argue that the repercussions from this financial crisis will last longer and hurt more people than the attacks on 9/11. Yes, the terror attacks affected this country's psyche, but this one will hit people's pocketbooks and truly affect they way Americans live their lives. After the attacks on 9/11, many people declared that they wouldn't let the terrorists scare them into changing how they lived. But just look at stock prices to see how people are reacting to this crisis. People are changing the way they live.

If things don't improve, some people may lose their jobs, and then more, and then more. Right now there isn't a huge impact to the typical American, but it could happen. And we did this to ourselves. Many in government can admit that this current crisis has been caused because of American policy, both governmental and within the financial industry. But when asked to actually name a cause, Democrats say it's the Republicans fault and Republicans point the finger at Democrats.

Yesterday the House voted on the bill that would allow the 158 gazillion dollar bailout of the financial industry, and it was voted down to many people's shock. President Bush was very unhappy and the candidates responded as well. But the blame game started immediately; it's "their" fault, not ours. Speaker Pelosi was so certain that she had the votes she needed for the bill to pass that she decided, at the most inopportune time, to deliver a speech filled with partisan jabs. At a moment in time when nothing was needed more in this country than a bipartisan House to act together to deal with the crisis, her words actually were decisive and led some republicans to vote no on the bill. Then finger-pointing was rampant once again, with Republicans blaming the Democrats for allowing politics to be involved in the crisis, and Democrats using the same blame in regards to the Republicans. At this point, as the Wall Street Journal has put it, Congress is really living up to its 10% approval rating. Even Bush, who many love to criticize, has a higher approval rating than that.

Terrorists who act against the west want to see it fall. It appears that they really don't have to do anything to help us topple because we are more than willing to implode all by ourselves.

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