Drivin' With Your Eyes Closed

That's a Don Henley song off the 1984 album Building The Perfect Beast. And while it's a song about love rather than finance, it perfectly describes the situation yesterday with the bungled Congressional vote on the Wall Street bailout (or "rescue plan," if you prefer). I talked to one of my Republican co-workers last night who was ecstatic about the measure going down to defeat. I was less sanguine about it. To me, it seemed that those who opposed it were saying something akin to "I don't like the way they've been driving the car, so let's take our hands off the steering wheel and close our eyes. The car will right itself." And what happens then to those of us who are riding in that car called the American economy?

And you're drivin' with your eyes closed,
Drivin' with your eyes closed,
Drivin' with your eyes closed,
You're gonna hit somethin',
But that's the way it goes...

I can understand the temptation to say, "Screw those golden parachute bastards on Wall Street," but unfortunately, Wall Street and Main Street are joined at the hip. If you have money in a retirement account, you just got a trickle-down screwing yesterday along with the golden parachute bastards when the market tanked. And the golden parachute bastards can probably make up for it by having champagne and caviar for breakfast only three times a week instead of every day. You'll feel it a lot more than they will.

It's like a flea on an elephant's back saying, "I don't care if something happens to the elephant. I'll be fine." Right. You don't even want to know how much money you lost yesterday in your 401K or TSP. It would just piss you off.

Was the Wall Street bailout the right plan, or even a good one? Perhaps not, but unfortunately, we're in a situation that more than one legislator (and more than one pundit) has described as a "crap sandwich." It's bad, but it appears to be better than any alternative that's likely to come down the pike. It certainly seems better than just closing our eyes and continuing to drive, hoping that we won't hit anything.

There were a lot of people who opposed the bailout as bad policy. I think, however, that may have been short-sighted of them. If the failure to pass the bill drives the economy over the cliff, both Democrats and Republicans will continue to point fingers at each other, but it's you and I who will pay the price.