The news media were all reporting it yesterday: the passage, by Congress, of a $700 billion bail out for Wall Street. Afterward, President Bush was quick to sign the bill into law. And, in press conference after press conference, our nation’s elected leaders were all busy flapping their lips about how this would ultimately be good for the nation; that it was a step in the right direction.
Do you want to know what really irks me about all of this? The hypocrisy of it all.
I watched some of the press conferences that occurred after the bill had passed. There they were – Republicans and Democrats – standing side by side behind podiums, praising one another; patting one another on the backs. Also, they seemed to be quite deliberate to point out just how hard they had been working together on behalf of the American people – as if that were something they should be highly recognized for.
Forgive my asking this: but – isn’t that what they supposed to be doing all of the time anyway? Weren’t they elected to do the will of the people – and not their own? Am I supposed to stand and applaud because they were doing the jobs they were hired to do?
But what irritates me the most is that Congress could have prevented all of this had they been doing their jobs in the first place. Had they been working together all along and exercised the oversight authority granted to them by the American people, the U.S. economy might not be in as bad a condition as it is and the "sub-prime" mortgage crisis might not be a reality.
The current economic snafu is a direct result of credit lending practices by banks and other lending institutions that were left unchecked. Folks were being offered and given loans they couldn’t afford in the first place. When things began going sour economically, those folks found that they didn’t have the wherewithal to keep up their payments. Consequently, quite of number of them found their loans in default and their homes went into foreclosure. And all for what? So that the banks and lending houses could make money. And, that greed for the bigger profit has cost America its financial stability.
All of this, unfortunately, culminated in the recent melodrama of the $700 billion bail out of Wall Street.
What I did find interesting during some of the press conferences I saw yesterday evening is that some of our nation’s politicians went out of their way to avoid calling it a "bail out." From behind their podiums they were careful to refer to is as a "rescue plan." And that started me thinking along another line of thought.
In about 5 weeks, the Presidential elections will take place. Also, there are other political elections taking place all around the nation. The one thing that most of these politicians have in common is that they want us all to believe that they have strong family values. I wonder just how strong those values truly are. Do our nation’s elected leaders really care about American families?
If indeed our nation’s elected leaders have such strong family values how can they ignore the fact that there are approximately 3.5 million American’s who will experience homelessness this year. About 1.35 million of them will be children. Roughly half of those children will be under the age of 5. And that families with dependant make up the fastest growing segment of the American homeless population.
Wouldn’t you think that if our nation’s politicians genuinely had strong family values that they’d somehow figure out a way to create legislation that would provide a "bail out" or "rescue plan" for homeless families? Wouldn’t that be something good? Wouldn’t that be something that they could stand side by side behind press conference podiums and be proud of? After all, Congress did manage to come up with a "rescue plan" to bail out banks and lending companies that were engaging in foolish lending practices. If they were able to "work together" to accomplish that feat, then surely they are smart enough to figure out how to help rescue America’s homeless families.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet, Homeless Families with Children,
"Recent evidence confirms that homelessness among families is increasing. The rate of requests for emergency assistance by families rose faster than the rate for any other group between 2006 and 2007. In some cities, it rose by as much as 15%."
I’m wondering how many of America’s currently homeless families are victims of the lending practices which caused the housing crisis in the first place; families whose homes were foreclosed on. I’m also wondering how many more American families are going to become homeless because of the same. And, I’m wonder how many of the executive officers of those banks and other financial institutions are still going to walk away with a hefty pension plan despite their mismanagement of those businesses which had to be bailed out.
No one really knows how long it will take before the $700 billion bail out will begin to have a positive effect on the economy – or if indeed it will. I guess we’ll all find out in due time.
In the meanwhile, America’s homeless families are left with only under funded and minimal homeless support services – which are a far cry from actually providing them a way off of the streets.
When will our nation’s elected leaders get it into their heads that there needs to be a genuine "rescue plan" if we expect to have a significant impact on reducing the numbers of homeless in America?