Revenge of Main Street | Sept. 16, commentary
Make Wall Street pay for its errors E.J. Dionne advocates an increased role for the federal government in dealing with the financial morass on Wall Street. In justifying this approach, he cites Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as an example of how the government can counteract the "foolishness of our financial geniuses."
Serious economists and historians still debate whether the massive expenditures of the New Deal helped the United States out of the Great Depression or made it worse. Although the Supreme Court ruled some of the programs unconstitutional, others still exist, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and of course our slowly collapsing Ponzi scheme, Social Security.
Lyndon Johnson's Great Society of the 1960s was our country's next major adventure with big-government intrusion. We were treated to such programs as Medicare, Medicaid, the Job Corps, food stamps and Head Start.
These enormously expensive big-government programs have cost all of us far more than any potential ramifications of the failures of such entities as Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. The financial market eventually corrects itself through survival of the fittest — or at least it would if the government would just stay out of the process instead of creating expensive, taxpayer-funded rescues.
Human nature being what it is, smarmy opportunists on Wall Street would be less likely to engage in risky schemes if they knew they would be held accountable for their actions. It is government intervention that creates the "moral hazard."
Joseph Hill, Panama City
GOP got us into this mess
From the time the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, their main job has been to reduce regulation on businesses' ability to accumulate wealth.
That's not a bad thing unless it goes too far. Phil Gramm, John McCain's primary economic adviser until his "nation of whiners" comment, is a former senator who most influenced the move to reduce regulation of banks, mortgage banks and other financial institutions.
As a result of his and other Republicans' efforts, even Henry Paulson, the secretary of the Treasury, says we now need to tighten regulations.
If you are watching your home value shrink, if you are watching your investments decline, if you think gas prices are too high, thank Gramm, McCain and the other members of the party that ruled Washington for most of the last 14 years.
Kyle Quattlebaum, Clearwater
Wild day on Wall Street | Sept. 15, story
Our current financial crisis is the inevitable result of the chipping away of most regulations governing the markets.
Free markets are a powerful tool for generating wealth and prosperity. Without reasonable government regulation, unreasonable exuberance leads to crashes. Unfortunately, powerful interests have made a hand puppet of the invisible hand and kept that natural tool as well from intervening until too late.
Robert D. Collette, South Pasadena
Send them to jail
Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG. How many more will fail that we are not aware of yet?
These companies have made billions from questionable business practices. Their management teams have paid themselves obscene salaries and bonuses based on these billions in profits. They have been able to disrupt the economy through negligent or nonexistent government supervision.
The time is long past due for us to make such companies and their management teams accountable instead of just bailing them out.
The one thing white-collar management and government personnel understand only too well is prison. Let's start now and set an example for present and future robber barons who strive for easy wealth: Lock them up and throw away the key.
Douglas Robb, Tampa
Polls can mask racism, but November's ballots won't | Sept. 15, story
Race doesn't enter into it
Here we go already. I naively thought that Barack Obama's opponents would not be accused of racism until after the elections.
Should the McCain-Palin ticket win in November, far-left zealots will rant about "racism" and the "disenfranchisement of minorities and the poor" and demand recounts.
Isn't it possible that McCain supporters simply do not believe in Obama's views and limited political experience?
I would vote for Condi Rice or Colin Powell in a heartbeat. I choose not to vote for Sen. Obama due to his far-left belief system. Whether you believe me or not is your problem, not mine.
Thomas W. Cunningham, Jr., St. Petersburg
Racism is alive and well
I am glad to see that someone else sees through the banter that many use when they say are undecided or even that they are voting for John McCain, yet don't have a solid reason for doing so or for not voting for Barack Obama. The underlying issue, frankly, is race. No one wants to talk about it, but it is what is going on.
I believe that if Obama were white, this would be a nontopic and America would be rallying around him. But he is half black and half white and no matter what any white person says (or doesn't say), many are prejudiced.
I hope and pray that we use this vote wisely, for ourselves, for our nation and for our world.
Nancy Devlin, St. Petersburg
It plays both ways
I read with interest your article on how many voters will not vote for Barack Obama because of his race. The parallel question should also be asked: How many African-American voters will vote for Obama solely because of his race?
In Charlotte, N.C., Sen. Joe Biden, campaigning for Obama, said that electing a black person to the office of president would be "transformative." I had hoped that we as a nation could decide on the merits of a person because of his ability — not because he is white or African-American. Pandering to individuals based on their race will never unite this country.
James Pirretti, St. Petersburg
Base your vote on the issues
Thanks for finally saying it: Race will be a component in the 2008 election. The fact that pollsters report a difference between polls and actual results is not surprising. What is surprising is that with Obama's mixed race, unusual name and Muslim stepfather, he has come this far. I may not agree with the 20 percent of exit-polled Ohio and Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters who said race was a factor in their decision, but I respect their honesty.
I only hope that in this election the majority of Americans will examine the issues, study both candidates' platforms, and then make an educated and intelligent decision on who deserves their vote.
Sherri Sujai, Clearwater