The NEWS with Tim O'Callaghan

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Government Misjudged Lifeline

This first published October 2, 2008 in the Henderson Home News, a Community Newspapers of Nevada publication.

It looks like the rooster has come home to roost. The U.S. economy has tanked after the first “bailout” failed, as it should have.

Isn’t it amazing how the stock market moved up as the promise of a lifeline was looming? And then the line snaps, and computers take over with automated trades dumping stocks, causing a 777-point drop on Monday. Some jackpot.

Then on Tuesday, as Congress continued to mend the lifeline for another toss to the sinking economy, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped back up 485 points.

Personally, I’m not real fond of bailing out all of the hooligans who have been living high on the hog with multiple homes and private jets on the backs of citizens trying reach the American dream just to have it snuffed out like a bad cigar.

I’m even more disenchanted by the political stock that both John McCain and Barack Obama tried to lasso from the crisis. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t buy into the ridiculous name-calling and blame-shifting going on by both parties. As far as the debates went, both of them should have stayed in Washington D.C. for change — a real change.

Last year, more than 37 million people were living below the poverty level in this country — the wealthiest country in the world. After this year, who knows how many more millions will have been forced into poverty?

What will the big “Bailout of ’08” do for the average “take a lunchbox to work Joe” in America? Very little is my guess.
Being very fortunate to have a 401(k) plan — even one that has gotten the you-know-what kicked out of it lately — I have decided not to panic and ride it out. The beauty of my 401(k) is that I make all of the decisions on what funds I choose. The downside is some of my choices weren’t that great. But I made the choices, and is Congress going to bail me out from my bad choices? Hell no!

Is this economic plan going to bail out all of those speculators who bought multiple homes in, let’s say, Las Vegas? Let’s just hope not.

So what am I going to do about my 401(k) and our mortgage? Absolutely nothing. Remain calm and continue on as usual. I’m not running to the bank and withdrawing our cash savings to put it in the mattress either.

Not only that, I’m encouraging you to spend wiser and, like me, keep spending even a little bit. Especially if you can spend your hard-earned cash with the small-business people trying to keep their heads above water and a roof over their families’ heads.

This is what made America great and will continue to do so in the future.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to tip. Tips are what makes the world go ’round. Just ask any of the tens of thousands of tip earners in this valley — our neighbors that is!

Now what about how our Nevada delegation voted on Monday’s failed bailout attempt?

Remember my last column, where I said Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., needed to shed his Bush lap dog image? Well he didn’t do it on Monday. He voted just the way President Bush wanted him to. Atta boy Jon. Here’s a bone. Good Boy!

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., did the right thing by voting against many of her colleagues and the president. She said the plan didn’t do enough for Americans and too much for corporate America.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted against it, saying he couldn’t vote for it in good conscience.

Don’t get me wrong: I could support any of the three. Some just need to learn a little independence.

Even though this idea won’t help my 401(k), I believe Wall Street should not get a dime other than what’s needed to borrow for capitalization and conservative expansion to create new jobs in the U.S.

In a perfect world, we would bail out residents trying to keep their homes by providing refinancing in the form of government loans and the understanding only one home would be eligible per tax filing. In other words, if you have two homes and you filed joint tax returns in 2007, you could only refinance one with a government loan.

That would keep the foxes out of the roost and the hens laying.

Tim O’Callaghan, co-publisher of the Home News, can be reached at 990-2656 or tim.oc@vegas.com. He writes a regular column at One Man's View.