Which camp do you belong to? Republicans or Democrats, Socialist or Capitalist... many in the Western world often know what they are or what they stand for ... e.g. "he is a left leaning republican ... blah-blah..." People in Asia do not usually ponder these matters, the most important political consideration is whether you are a Communist, and as long as you are against Communism, you are ok. Now here is a case which caught fire over the weekend. If you are honest and admit whose side you are on - it basically tells a lot about how you view the world and people around you.
On CNBC, Rick Santelli complained and ranted that the president’s housing plan rewarded “bad behavior” and suggested creating an Internet Web site to allow Americans to vote on whether they wanted to subsidize “losers’ mortgages.” The rant captured many's attention, some for and some against. Over the weekend, the notable and fiery Robert Gibbs, Obama's press secretary, launched a strong rebuttal against Santelli.
Mr. Gibbs decried Mr. Santelli for what he called a rant and made these observations:
“I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Santelli lives or in what house he lives but the American people are struggling every day to meet their mortgage, stay in their job, pay their bills, send their kids to school. You can’t stay in this program unless you continue to make mortgage payments. That’s important for Mr. Santelli and millions of Americans to understand. Mr. Santelli has argued, I think quite wrongly, that this plan won’t work for everyone. Now every day when I come out here I spend a little time, reading studying the issues, asking people who are smarter than I am questions about those issues. I would encourage him to read the presidents plan and understand that it will help millions of people many of whom he knows. I would be more than happy to have him come here and read it. I’d be happy to buy him a cup of coffee — decaf.”
Before you read on, which camp do you think you are in. Decide now, it should strike a chord in you immediately. Are the things Santelli said always at the back of your mind?
All things being equal, Santelli's diatribe is quite Republican, let the markets correct itself. You made a bad decision, you should have to pay for it yourself. Surprisingly, or rather, unsurprisingly, Santelli did not make the same rant when funds were doled out to banks via TARP!!! That is so Republican, the corporations and businesses are supreme, not the masses.
The key phrase in Santelli's rant was "losers' mortgages". That implies that if you were not smart enough, you deserve to rot in hell. Anyone who ends up on the losing side will be called "losers", not when the bet is still on. That camp always believe investments and funds should go to the deserving, not the needy, hence they are generally against "crutches" and "safety nets"... try pushing through a bill to give single mothers' benefits, and you would have big problem persuading the Santelli's camp.
What is a government but a collection of people under one nation, entrusted to take care of the economy, social infrastructure and prosperity of those people. Its not a business. You cannot lay off your own citizens when the going gets tough.
The assumption that an individual is entirely responsible for their own decisions and actions is false and flawed. You can be a hard working individual with normal commitments, who ends getting caught up in the credit implosion tidal wave that is greater than you can fight off or predict. If you have a mortgage, a car loan, and is supporting two kids in college, and find that your property is now in negative equity, and your job no longer exists - is that entirely your fault? I am not making excuses for those who have lost their jobs and/or in negative equity property loans - some may have taken on more risk than they can or should shoulder. Some have taken on mortgages greater than their ability to pay, but its hard to decipher one from the other.
Most individuals are not "specialised or informed enough" to read prospectuses, to understand the actual make up of CDOs, or what credit default swaps are, many are not aware the regulators are not doing their job well, many have been relying on those fucked up credit rating agencies that put a AAA stamp on those CDOs, many more are deluded that they can afford a$500,000 loan when their monthly salary is only $5,000 by mortgage finance companies, ...
People have government to put in place specialised regulators, laws and enforcement officials to "protect individuals" from excessive mania or maniac behaviour. When you keep offering huge loans to people with little capital and affordability, it is very difficult for the individuals not to be caught up in the spiral. Governments and responsible officers in industry are there to "not allow" these things to get out of hand - they did not do their jobs.
Individuals also have to share their burden of their follies, its not all one sided, but to trash Obama's mortgage renegotiation plan as taxpayers funding those "losers' mortgages" is plain irresponsible and cruel.
CNBC has taken the place of Fox (Republican) network. CNBC is so biased towards the ancient Republican policies that it is ridiculous. Michelle Caruso-Cabrera is the female Rush Limbaugh as some would say. Gasparino is not far behind. Somehow those people in the Santelli camp tends to be owning more than a couple of paid off houses - coincidence? To be fair, there are rich people who are Democrats too, so you need to differentiate. Just that Democrats, even when they are rich, still feel a bigger need to have a fairer society; while a Republican thinks that you need to be pro-business so that the rich can employ the poor.
The housing bill, stimulus bill and TARP are not perfect, but they are a starting point to pull together. Santelli stated something like “you can’t spend your way to prosperity” to which his audience of traders applauded and whistled approvingly. Well, Santelli and his band of traders had no problem leveraging themselves to prosperity over the past 5 years.
No prizes for guessing which camp I belong to.
p/s photos: Aum Patacharapa Chaichua