You Can't Handle The Truth

by: Mike Steinhardt

Watch this video of Costanza and picture him as Bernanke or Paulson or the President or any almost any other politician.

What would happen if we told the truth in this country?  What would happen if we told the average American citizen the truth about what might happen during the “crisis”, “meltdown”, “financial Armageddon”,  or whatever vague but scary term they feel comfortable using?

Your representatives are too afraid to tell you the truth.  Is that why you voted for them?  Is that their job - to protect you from the truth?

As I have remarked before - apparently the oath that goes something like “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” does not need to apply to politicians or Secretary Paulson or Chairman Bernanke.

Two weeks ago (before we had this TARP proposal), I asked some of the media who read this blog, to do something…I wanted them to ask the powerful people to Describe A Meltdown.  Here is the post:

Would someone in the “real” media please ask Bernanke or Paulson or Bush or Dodd or Frank or any other person in power these questions?

Sir/Madam:  You keep saying we had no choice but to do this bailout to avoid a cataclysmic meltdown of the global financial system.   Don’t just make a vague reference to a “meltdown”.  In great detail, please explain exactly what you mean by this?  What would happen exactly?  What would be the series of events?  Who would be involved?  Who would get hurt?  What would happen to the average person who is paying for these bailouts?

I am confident this kind of questioning will not be likely.  And if it is, they won’t answer it because they might either scare the very markets they say they are protecting or it might show they have no fucking clue what the risks are or it might show that they know where the risks are but they don’t want to go on record and have to explain what they didn’t do in the past to prevent it or what they did in the past to create this mess or what they will not do to prevent another “meltdown.”

Instead, we just get these wonderful statements from the politicians telling us how they just protected us from “a crisis” that was just about to happen.   Feel better?

We have two choices:

    1. Don’t ask questions.  Accept vague answers.  Accept it when they say “no comment”. Just trust them.
    2. Ask tough questions.  Hold them accountable for telling the whole truth.

So far I have yet to hear too many people even bother to ask the question.  Stephanopolous gave it a try but Paulson decided to avoid answering and just tried to tell us once again using vague but scary terms, like “grave” or “dire” etc. etc.    Instead we just see more of the same and more of what the Congressional “leaders” said at the end of last week.  Listening to the people briefed by Paulson and Bernanke, they said it was frightening and really really scary.  Oh My!  I guess they were told the truth.  But they refuse to tell us word for word what they were told.  They also refuse to ask Paulson or Bernanke to repeat word for word what was said behind those closed doors.  You can’t handle the truth.  Instead you are getting “protected” and you just have to take their word for it.  Scarrrrrry, really really scarrrrrry!  Just believe us!

Some politicians during the past two days have explained how their constituents are opposing this legislation because they don’t understand what doing it or not doing it will mean to them.  EXACTLY!!!!!  Until average Americans who don’t speak politish or acronymese or know what securitization is or what derivatives are or any of that stuff that smarties like Paulson and Bernanke and their politicians love to discuss….. well, until the truth is spoken they will not support this bailout.  Saying that the economic statistics will be bad or that people will find it hard to buy a car is not very scarrrrrry to the average guy.  Saying the economy will “weaken” or “suffer” is not personal enough - it does not hit home and it does not portray an immediate danger.

They want your money.  $700 billion of it on the low end.  Shouldn’t you be able to hear the truth?  Apparently, you can’t handle the truth!

Well, whether you can handle it or not is your issue.  Whether you believe what someone says might happen is also your issue.  I’ve been telling my family and friends for months and increasingly over the past few weeks and days exactly what I think will happen.  A long time ago (before Bear Stearns), I was laughed at quite a bit as being a touch crazy.  Lately, the usual response is just a look of disbelief and a question like - “Do you really believe that?”

So here is a sample of what I think will happen.  In the short term, I expect that the financial system will come to a halt and not just in the US.  Our economy is based upon credit and credit payment systems.   What does that mean to the guy in Iowa?  What do you think will happen if you cannot use your credit card or your debit card or a check or gain access to your atm?   What if you don’t have cash or a means of payment to buy food or pay for gas?  What desperate things will people do?   Think it through and find your own truth.

You might decide it is worth it to support this TARP bailout.  You might not believe something like chaos and anarchy is possible because of a “financial crisis” so you might decide to continue opposing it.  If you were told the truth about what might happen from your leaders, you would be able to make a decision.

Regardless of the decisions you make or the decisions that Congress makes, there is a deeper truth.  You have to determine whether a government bailout will entirely remove the risks to the average person or whether it will just postpone the inevitable.  Is that worth $700 billion+ to you?