BY MATT TOWERY
Morris News Service
Say you shoplift. You get handcuffed and tossed into a nasty jail cell. It happens every day, just about everywhere.
Say you commit a really serious crime. It's likely your bond will be
set at a price too steep to afford. You'll sit in jail until your case
But you're not the man who swindled billions of dollars from
unsuspecting investors. Not the man who apparently violated the order
that allowed him to live under "house arrest" in his luxury Manhattan
home, even after he "gifted" over $1 million in jewels to close friends.
You're not Bernie Madoff, he of the special treatment. You're not the guy who has ruined families and triggered suicides.
Unbelievable. And Madoff isn't alone. Late last year, as America's
financial system was near collapse, Congress put its political neck on
the line and passed the Troubled Assets Relief Program. It was a
$700-billion bailout supposedly designed to free up liquidity and help
rescue financial institutions that were sinking under the weight of
homeownership and other loans that had gone sour.
With at least a good portion of the first half of the TARP funds having
already been distributed, the requirement that the funds be used to
make good on bad loans has been dropped. The banks have done little if
any lending to individuals, small businesses or anyone else. Beyond
that, many in the financial sector took home nice fat bonuses, as if
the year had been a rousing success.
But the con games don't end with the banks.
After receiving billions of our hard-earned tax dollars in a bailout of
Chrysler, we came to learn this week that the privately held company
seems to believe that it has no duty to make its finances available to
Unbelievable! To me, Chrysler is now a public corporation using public funds to keep going.
It gets worse. When Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli was begging for a bailout
from Congress and the White House, I don't recall him ever suggesting
that $4 billion would only keep the company afloat for a month or so.
But now comes an AP story this week, "Chrysler's fate running on empty:
Car analysts expect it to die." The piece quoted Chrysler's chief
financial officer saying the company needs " ... $7 billion every 45
days to pay parts suppliers." The article went on to note that "...
analysts question whether the company's meager sales are generating enough cash to make those payments."
That's funny, because just days earlier, when Nardelli won his bailout
prize from the White House he said, "This initial loan will allow the
company to continue orderly restructuring while pursuing our vision to
build (vehicles) ... people want to buy." Now that hardly seemed like a
warning to the public that funded this "loan" that it was likely just
throwing good money after bad toward a hopeless situation.
So we've been conned by the recognized con artists like Madoff; by the
financial institutions who haven't done anything to help the rest of
the nation with the bailout funds; and now by a carmaker that may have
known darn well it couldn't survive, and yet took our money without
letting us see what is being done with it.
Do these people not realize that we're talking about real money?
Obviously not. Instead, they've collectively been coddled and treated
as special breeds, instead of like the financial curs they are.
We've been scammed. Our national treasury has been looted. Our justice
system has been exposed as a joke. And the trail of tears -- financial
and personal losses -- just gets longer and wetter.
I supported the idea of the first bailout of financial institutions.
Not because I trusted them, but because I knew another week's worth of
panic would have left them with no stock value, and thus no capital.
The result would have been a decimation of our economy.
But everything about the way we have dealt with these "untouchable"
people and institutions -- letting Madoff carry on as usual, letting
banks hoard the gifted cash and letting Chrysler fudge the facts --
makes me sick. I hope we can get every last one of these rotten
Matt Towery served as the chairman of former Speaker Newt Gingrich's
political organization from 1992 until Gingrich left Congress. He is a
former Georgia state representative, the author of several books and
currently heads the polling and political information firm
InsiderAdvantage. To find out more about Matthew Towery and read
features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the
Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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