Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sounders of Swine

With the fall of the US housing market only halfway to bottom, the Republican opposition to the House housing bill would be ironic were it not tragic. Led by House Minority leader John Beohner, most Republicans complain that the Federal government's helping homeowners facing foreclosure would create moral hazards at taxpayers' expense. That means, that people gulled into predatory mortgages or who jumped at some deal they knew was too good would not suffer the full consequences of their decisions. What is ironic is these same Republicans do not acknowledge they created greater moral hazards by voting for and continuing to support the war in Iraq. This war has already cost American tax payers over $800 billion dollars and will likely end up costing three or four times that amount.

The Republican leadership instead has been well compensated by the defense contractors and oil companies who have benefited from the misadventure in Iraq. They are looking forward to a similar payday from banks and other financial institutions when the sustain Bush's veto of any housing bill that emerges from Congress. This is because such a bill to be effective will include requiring the banks and other mortgage holders to write down the amounts of principal and/ or reset rates to amounts the homeowners can bear. Consequently, the institutions would be forced to write off the differences, which would increase their losses, further depress the share price of their stocks and reduce the bonuses of their senior managers.

Undoubtedly the bankers, insurance companies, investment houses and their Republican gofers will discover some national security argument that makes the dispossession of millions of Americans virtuous. For example: any alleviation of current economic hardship will make the current sign up bonuses for army recruits less attractive and hence prolong our path to victory.
Or: any lessening of individual responsibility will sap our will to resist the Islamic fascist collective.

The conduct and allegiances of the Republicans might recall Samuel Johnson's and Ambrose Bierce's definitions of patriotism. For Johnson, patriotism was the last recourse of the scoundrel, for Bierce, it was the first.

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