One day soon after Sept. 11, 2001, I was in an empty warehouse in Jersey City, N.J., helping unload supplies for the rescue crews over at Ground Zero. Big 18-wheelers were coming from all over the nation, crammed with stuff. Some was being loaded onto tugboats and hauled across the Hudson, and some was being stored in that warehouse.
Dozens of people were there. A young marine. A father with his even younger son. Men, women, I can’t remember them all. We made a human conveyor belt and and passed boxes and crates and palates from the trucks into and through the warehouse.
I was never more proud of this country than that day. From the people who donated the supplies on those trucks to the rescue crews in the burning pit of Ground Zero, Americans came to the aid of their nation. Everybody wanted to do something, absolutely anything, to help. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
When I compare the response to Sept. 11 in those first chaotic days to the response to the financial crisis, I’m dismayed to the point of anger. If there’s been one selfless act since this whole sordid drama started unwinding two years ago, I’ve missed it. Instead, it’s been one long series of self-serving, back-room handshake deals to save a precious few at the great expense of the vast many. The good faith and credit of the United States has been put on the line to save a handful of private actors.
President Obama says he gets the message sent by the voters of Massachusetts? With all due respect, he has no idea what the message is. The administration thinks that if it just creates a bunch of jobs (or saves them, or saves and creates them, or whatever it’s calling it,) then its job will be done. Yes, the economy is a major issue. But that isn’t what’s got people in a lather.
It’s the fairness, stupid.
Bailing out private companies like AIG was not fair. Bailing out the auto makers, and the banks, and paying AIG’s counterparties 100 cents on the dollar for their terrible bets was not fair. It was not fair for the Fed to buy all those soured loans off the banks’ hands, and relieve them of the burden, placing it on the citizenry’s shoulders. Bankruptcy is fair. The FDIC seizing failed banks and selling them off is fair. But fairness went out the window two years ago.