Tuesday, September 23, 2008

$700 Billion Dollar Roller Coaster Quick-Fix


Our government is considering, and is at this moment negotiating, a $700 billion dollar package to 'rescue' the economy from what is being sold to us as certain ruin.

This 'ruin', of course, was completely and totally self-inflicted. Interest rates at historic lows combined with a loosening of lending policies, especially by mortgage companies, resulted in a number of bad loans to poor credit risks that was inevitably going to come crashing down around many people and companies.

Those who bet on an ever-expanding economy were right in the long run, because the fact is that over time the economy will likely expand, assets will increase in value, and investments will rise.

But some people also forgot that the economy takes ups and downs, much like a roller coaster, on the way to the ultimate thrill of an ending. Some people are going to get caught in a 'down', they are going to lose in the market. That is the risk involved in the ride, that every once in awhile one is going to run off the tracks and crash.

The ride is often a true thrill, because you have great highs where you soar, where your investments rise and you feel invincible as your account balances inflate. However, you also have to suffer the anxiety of the downturns.

The economy will adjust from time to time, weed out the bad, and hit that roller coaster dropoff. Your stomach may rise into your throat at this point, and you may even scream out of sudden fear for your safety, the safety of your assets in this case.


Thankfully on a real roller coaster, as on the roller coaster of life, we usually rise again. There are brakes and seat belts and safety bars to protect us, and there are also 'the odds', which say that the overwhelming majority of the time you will survive that dropoff and rise once again.

Over time in the economic world, you will rise to a point higher than the point at which you started. However, like real roller coasters, every once in a blue moon one is going to go crashing off the rails. Often this will be as a result of poor maintenance, or a sudden brake down in a normally reliable part.

The same thing will happen with the economy. It will run off the rails, and those on the roller coaster are going to go down - hard - some to never get up again.

It should never be the role of our government to bail out capitalist companies that live and die with their bottom lines. Individual investors, as well as companies big and small, take risks in order to experience rewards. Many will ultimately succeed. Some, and sometimes many, will fail and will collapse.

It is these collapses and negative adjustments that the rest of us learn from, and that create opportunities for others to come in and build a better mousetrap. The government has no business bailing out this economy with our tax dollars.

The government does not have any money of it's own, it has only the funds collected from you and me in taxation. In taxing our businesses, our incomes, our investments, and in the interest they make on the investments they make with our money. Key words being 'our money.'

Businesses, banks, mortgage companies, individuals were riding high on the up-slope for years, and they also need to go through the down-slope for the free market to naturally adjust at the bottom of its drop-off.

It may be a long, hard, jaw-dropping, stomach in your brains drop, and some may not survive the scare. But the fact is that the real crash will occur by artificially propping up this economy with a bailout. It will have the ultimate effect of putting glue on a broken roller coaster rail.

The force of the coaster will, sooner rather than later, overwhelm the glue. The rail may actually need to be taken up and replaced. The roller coaster may need to be taken off-line for a short period while true repairs are done.

But in the long run, this will be best. The rail will be fixed, the rides will begin again, and the thrill will come back.

The government needs to let the market do its work, and save us all the irresponsible $700 billion dollar quick-fix that it is trying to push on those of us who understand what riding a roller coaster is all about.

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