Monday, February 23, 2009

Rick Santelli Isn't Happy

I had never heard of CNBC loudmouth Rick Santelli before last Thursday, but his little rant about President Obama’s homeowner relief quickly became the hottest thing on the internet. Standing on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Santelli blasted the $75 billion that the administration plans to spend on restructuring the loans of people who now can’t afford their mortgages. Santelli called these people losers and wondered why he and others who were careful with their money (i.e. who are rich enough to pay cash for the typical house) had to pony up to get them out of hot water. Ideally, he argued, they should be allowed to go bankrupt and the market would correct for the failure.

Of course free-market advocates tend to be selective in their protestations. While the $700 billion bailout for the banking industry, passed by the allegedly free-market advocating Bush administration, drew widespread outcry, at least as much of that was due to its opacity, lack of detail and rewarding of banks like AIG whose investments in mortgage-backed securities and subsequent misstatement of their losses brought immense harm not only to themselves but caused a chain-reaction that brought the world’s economy to a screeching halt. On top of this was the realization that the lifting of regulations and gutting of oversight bodies that set the stage for this economic calamity hadn’t been addressed. And when Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson’s beneficiaries slathered giant bonuses on themselves, it became evident that personal responsibility was about the only luxury the rich couldn’t afford.

The poor and middle class, however, were another matter. While Obama’s detractors have cried “socialism!” since well before the election over his plan to let the Bush tax cuts for the rich die a natural death – letting the rate go up to the 39% allowed by that commie, Ronald Reagan – Santelli and others seem intent on dragging the blame-the-poor myths out of the Republican toybox and bitching about how their taxes are going to coddle the poor and irresponsible.

Well, Mr. Santelli, a portion of everybody’s tax money goes for shit they don’t approve of or wouldn’t pay for themselves. Hell, my tax money has paid to get American soldiers’ legs blown off in Iraq so Halliburton could have no-bid contracts to send pancakes by armored C-130 to Baghdad, which I’ve also paid for. I’ve paid to stop gay people who love each other and are in long-term relationships from getting married. I’ve paid to enforce an embargo against Cuba long after the cold war ended. I’ve paid for the Pakistani intelligence service to give money to the Taleban who gave it to the people who perpetrated 9/11. Then I paid to give money to Pakistan again so they could buy weapons that they pointed at India, who I also paid to arm. I paid to teach abstinence to — and withhold information about abortions from — people in Africa, many of whose children will die of AIDS because they never heard of birth control that could prevent its spread. I paid for George H. W. Bush to send troops to Somalia, then I paid Bill Clinton to pull them out, then I paid the salaries of the grandstanding assholes who laid the blame for al-Qaida on this and other actions. I paid Ken fucking Starr’s salary for the years he investigated and impeached Bill Clinton. I’m paying for miners to dig in our national parks, for cows I will never eat to be packed into filthy feedlots you can smell a mile away, and for rich bastards to run people off their land so they can build stadiums there instead.

Paying to give a second chance to some poor shlubs who bought into the American dream and were conned into biting off more than they could chew? Sign me the fuck up.