"I know of nobody> who is arguing over the amount of money or even that the secretary ought to have the authority to purchase these toxic instruments, these bad debts," said Sen. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
Well, Senator, had you or Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson truly bothered to ask around, you'd surely have found more than a few honest, taxpaying citizens who are, like me, completely outraged over the size, scope and nature of the unprecedented plan to push this country further toward total socialist rule.
Wealth creation isn't simply the act of signing a check or printing a dollar bill. Creating wealth -- the type of wealth that yields new advancements and jobs, and enhances human life -- is a result of reason, hard work and long-range planning. Wealth isn't born of a governmental decree or redistribution of wealth. Yet that's exactly the path down which Dodd, Paulson, President Bush and the rest of the federal government continue to push.
First the feds nationalized mortgage giants Fannie Mae (FNM)
It doesn't end there. Uncle Sam further plans a $700 billion fund to buy, well, whatever types of assets it wants. Originally envisioned as a repository for soured mortgage bets, as late as Sunday night, the Treasury Department reportedly revised plans to include what it terms "troubled assets." Those could be student loans, credit-card debt, non-U.S. assets, or anything else that happens to strike Paulson's fancy. You couldn't design a more inherently corrupt and arbitrary policy if you tried.
As it now stands, the plan would spend as much as the annual budgets of the Departments of Education, Defense and Health and Human Services combined. Of course, that can and surely will change, quite possibly by the time you get done reading this.
Already being tacked on are the politically populist measures to keep "struggling homeowners" from losing their houses and limit executive compensation. At all firms or just those participating in the scheme? Nobody knows. Nobody knows anything at all. The rules by which honest businessmen attempt to function are now changing on literally an hour-by-hour basis.
On Friday the government made it illegal to sell short 899 financial stocks, a bizarrely arbitrary list that included Silver State Bancorp (SSBX),
When laws are made without the benefit of a Constitutional vetting or vote, confusion reigns. Not even the pros know what the heck is going on, which is exactly why the markets are now regularly swinging 400 points a day with little regard to economic fundamentals. When markets are dictated by bureaucrats, earnings and analysis are no longer relevant.
Indeed, instead of property rights and the rule of law, the country is now being governed by spur-of-the-moment plans devoid of any long-range thinking. Just listen to our own president: "Look, I'm sure there are some of my friends out there saying, 'I thought this guy was a market guy. What happened to him?'" Bush told a Washington press conference. "Well, my first instinct wasn't to lay out a huge government plan. My first instinct was to let the market work until I realized, upon being briefed by the experts, of how significant this problem became."
The message is that we believe in free markets until times get tough, at which point capitalism goes out the window and is replaced by Venezuelan-style nationalization and rule-by-decree.
And make no mistake, that's exactly what we are witnessing. Without so much as a single vote, the supposedly fiscally conservative Bush administration has achieved an economic coup d'etat, completely abandoning the free-market principles on which this country was built. In its place is crony capitalism in which individual property rights and the proper role of government -- as referee, not starring actor -- has disappeared altogether. The icing on the cake: The trillion-dollar price tag that accompanies Paulson's plan is being paid for by lifting the ceiling on the federal debt to $11.3 trillion, having already been raised earlier this year.
Just pick up a newspaper from the last few days and you'll quickly see that Bernanke, Paulson, Bush, Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) and the rest are flying by the seat of their pants, ruling on an ad-hoc basis and, quite obviously, making up directives as they go along.
It's impossible to plan long-range when the country's leaders can't see past the next edition of the Washington Post. As I've been pointing out for weeks now, traditional economic analysis simply does not work. Big Brother is now calling the shots.
What to own at a time like this? I have increased my holdings of Japanese yen, including purchases of the CurrencyShares Japanese Yen ETF (FXY),