Wednesday, September 17, 2008
In his book "Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country", leading journalist William Greider said that the economy is like a poker game. He said that it is human nature to want to get all of the chips, but noted that - if one person does get all of the chips - the game ends.
In other words, the game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone's money, the game ends.
The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed.
No wonder billionaire George Soros says that the way US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was handling the situation was "very reminiscent of the way the central bankers talked in the 1930s", the time of the Great Depression.And no wonder Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stresses putting poker chips back in the hands of the little guy (for example, by strengthening unemployment insurance).
This is not a question of big government versus small government, or republican versus democrat. It is not even a question of Keynes versus Friedman (two influential, competing economic thinkers).
It is a question of focusing any government funding which is made to the majority of poker players - instead of the titans of finance - so that the game can continue. If the hundreds of billions or trillions spent on bailouts had instead been given to ease the burden of consumers, we would have already recovered from the financial crisis.