UPDATE: Please read the very thoughtful and informed comments that are coming in on this post. Very helpful.
Second UPDATE: I would like to hear from you all what you think should be done, as opposed to what is being done (or not done). Seems like we need the voice of the people on this one before the men behind closed doors scamper off with our constitution at a moment of national panic.
I'm not the biggest current affairs expert on the planet. I'm not the guy reading five newspapers and watching CNN and C-Span constantly. I don't yell at my opponents and I don't interrupt.
I do, however, think our current financial crisis is serious. Individual people are being hurt by what's happening. ARM mortgages matched with declining property values have left folks upside down and scared. In most parts of North America the job market is not that great. The value of the dollar is pathetic compared to international currency. Competition from abroad is stiffer than ever. Oil is getting more and more pricey, and the proceeds go to fund our terrorist enemies. And to top it all off, Tom Brady is injured and will have to sit out the whole NFL season.
Smarter economic minds than mine have argued both sides of the Bail Out idea. Congress and the President are staying up late arguing about it. From what I can gather, it kind of goes like this: If these financial institutions (which is a fancy name for companies that make money off off people by playing with their money and/or loaning them money at a higher cost than they could have earned it for themselves in the first place) fall, they will take down a lot of us little people with them. That's because if these financial institutions fall, they will take our money down with them. If they take our money down with them, we won't be able to get it back from them. And if we can't get it back from them, we won't have it. But we need it. Badly. Problem is, these companies are in trouble because they've already lost our money. It's gone amissin'. That's why a Bail Out is needed. So the government Bail Out is basically the idea that the government will rush in and give the financial institutions money to replace the missing money that we gave to them in the first place. Then they will have it and they won't fall. Since they won't fall, they won't take our money with them. If they don't take our money with them, then we won't lose it. Therefore we won't fall. Everybody lives happily ever after.
Only question is: Where did the money go in the first place?
Maybe the "financial institutions" left it in their Armani suits or corporate jets and just forgot where they put it.
And the only other only question is: where is the government going to get the money to give to the financial institutions?
If the government doesn't actually "earn" money, that means that they will be coming to us to get it (the technical term, I believe, is called "taxes.")
But we don't have it. The financial institutions took it and lost it someplace.
So the government is going to come to us to get more money to give to the people who lost our money so we won't lose our money.
Whew. I feel safe.
I know, I'm probably being too simple-minded. This whole thing probably involves some pretty complicated economics somebody needs to explain to me, which can probably only be done by a politician.