Sound Off on the Bailout

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As community activists and organization leaders, Nonprofit Quarterly readers probably have a lot to say about the various proposals for a purported financial sector “bailout” currently being debated on Capitol Hill. It is truly a bipartisan issue — liberals and conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, and libertarians are debating the pros and cons of the largest federal intervention in the financial system since FDR’s Banking Act of 1933. We want to hear what you have to say about this debate.

Here at NPQ, we’ve written about the “financial sector meltdown ” for its impacts on philanthropic grantmaking and nonprofit budgets. But the real import is much larger: What will the bailout mean for our economy and our communities? Is it the right thing or the wrong thing to do or something in between? How will our communities, our constituents and stakeholders, not just our nonprofit organizations, fare as a result of various bailout ideas? Based on what you see and know, watching what’s happening with mortgage foreclosures and bank failures, looking at the shaky footing of the nation’s largest insurers, seeing the nation’s largest brokerage houses collapse almost overnight, what do you think should be the preferred response of Congress, the Administration, and perhaps the two major party presidential candidates to the prospect of a financial sector bailout?

And then back to our beat — charity and philanthropy: What should the nonprofit sector do, locally, regionally, and nationally, to make sure our voices are heard on what could be not only the largest federal government intervention in the economy in modern history, but the most threatening economic climate since the Great Depression?

We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think about the bailout ideas. We need the nonprofit sector lens on the societal issues of our day, not just nonprofit-specific issues. Send us your responses (please limit responses to 500 words and let us know if you will allow us to post your response on the NPQ Web site).

  • Robert Haas

    The issue needs more study – moving too fast through Congress. The entire success or failure of this initiative rest in the same hands as those whom got us there in the first place. No No No

  • Henrietta Jordan

    This is a letter to the editor I penned a couple of days ago on the bailout. It is written not from the perspective of a nonprofit manager, but as one of the millions of middle-class Americans who are just trying to get by. It’s a bit of a rant and doesn’t offer any advice except to stop trusting Republicans, but it’s probably close to how many Americans are feeling right now–including all of those who depend on the nonprofit sector for the essential services we provide.

    Footing the Bill

    I love my country, but I’m getting mighty tired of getting stuck with the bill for its failed economic policies. As I write this, Congress is debating a bailout costing up to $700 billion for Wall Street excesses that caught sail on the winds of deregulation and have plummeted to the bottom with all the grace of a collapsing Ponzi scheme. That’s $700 billion of your money and mine-money that could’ve gone for education, health care, and solving the climate change crisis; for fighting poverty, disease, and homelessness.

    We’re stuck with the bill because the Republicans refused to implement the safeguards that could’ve prevented this mess. The executives and power brokers who supported the anti-regulators became billionaires while folks like us are watching our retirement funds swirl down the drain. We probably have no choice but to pay up in order to stave off widespread financial collapse and panic and even greater losses.

    Does the plotline “regulatory laissez-faire leads to taxpayer bailout” sound familiar? Remember John McCain’s chum Charles Keating and collapse of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association? That led to a $124 billion S&L bailout. We got stuck with that bill, too.

    It’s getting so that rich folks are the only ones who can afford the Republicans’ policies and the excesses they encourage. Funny how those policies only seem to make them richer-while the rest of us foot the bill.

  • Regina Birdsell

    Here in California we are facing a one-two punch. Our state budget is in crisis as well. We have heard about organizations that are already cutting back on services, laying off staff and that is before foundation and private funding commitments shrink next year. One thing is clear. The demand for housing, mental health, prevention programs will continue to grow and non profit leaders will be expected to figure out new ways to meet those needs at the community level.

  • Adam C. Rosenberg

    Perhaps a $700bn bailout is in order to save the financial markets and ultimately the American economy – but who is going to bail out the not for profit community when its various funding sources dry up as a result of fewer federal and state dollars and diminished funds for donors and foundations? For some of us, everyday is a “financial meltdown” as we struggle to provide the services necessary that governmental agencies simply cannot or will not provide. With the war in Iraq estimated at costing over $1tn and the bailout costing $700bn – what money will be left to fund the on ground service providers and the people they serve?

  • Larry Ottinger

    The financial crisis is going to seriously hurt children, families and communities that are served by the over 1 million charitable organizations in this country. Nonprofits will be hit hard from both sides. On the one hand, government and private donors will cut back sharply on resources for charities and at the same time will expect more from us in terms of picking up the pieces.

    As studies by the Aspen Insitute and Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Civil Society have consistently shown, nonprofits can not replace government in terms of providing essential services to those who need them most. With diminished resources, the current gap will only be exacerbated.

    There are at least three critical lessons for the nonprofit sector, among many, from this crisis. The first, flowing from the above, is that public and private decision-making on policy issues matters. Whether it relates to government regulations of the market or resources or corporate decisions, policy matters intensely to the people and causes served by nonprofits.

    Second, if you are not at the policy table, you are on the table. Nonprofits and philanthropy must get themselves and their constituents involved in the democratic process in order to make a difference for the communities and causes they care most dearly about. As one small example, just think if those who were working to increase housing counseling and curb predatory lending had had more organized nonprofit advocates to push through such preventive foreclosure solutions. According to the Foundation Center, only about 11% of private and community foundation support goes to anything that might conceivably involve “structural change.” Given that government funds generally can not be used for lobbying and often for other advocacy, that means that private philanthropy must do that much more. While there will never be a level playing field, there need to be more civic and public interest voices in a democracy founded upon the ideal of government of, by, and for the people.

    Third, as resources dwindle and expectations increase, nonprofits and philanthropy will need to be even more strategic. By increasing support for effective community organizing, public policy and voter engagement, sector leaders can leverage change at a scale necessary to empower and serve those most in need.

    Finally, let me be clear that this is not an either-or situation in terms of direct service and advocacy. It is both and the one complements the other. Both ways of helping people are starved for resources. Do not allow people to divide and conquer based on advocacy versus service or grassroots versus direct lobbying. The popular newbook Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits makes this point well in research findings that the highest impact organizations do both. It is a balance and right now we are way out of balance.

    Throughout our nation’s history and today, there are outstanding public interest lobbyists and nonprofits that have combined service and advocacy to bring about fundamental changes in our society. Whether it was abolishing slavery, providing women and African Americans with the vote, creating safe and decent workplaces, cleaning up the environment, curing childhood and adult illnesses, or protecting consumers during this current crisis, nonprofits have played a central role. If we are to continue to create a “more perfect union,” then we all as a charitable sector must have the courage to do it again.

  • Donald A. Griesmann, Esq.

    Here is my offering:

    Federal Grants for Big Business – Social and Private Enterprise for Nonprofits ([url]http://dongriesmannsnonprofitblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/federal-grants-for-big-business-social.html[/url])

  • Kelly Associates

    Bernie Sanders has created a sign-on letter that expresses my views pretty well.

  • Marcus Adam

    “The bailout” was created on purpose to enact radical policy in a time of crisis similar to the Patriot Act after 9/11/01. This is what this administration does – it lies, cheats, steals, and terrorizes the country through economics or any other means it can find. Secretary Paulson was a major creator of the situation when he was with Goldman Sachs and to imagine him being the one to oversee the pot for “fixing it” is the most ludicrous idea, but falls short of surprise.

  • Beth Allen

    I think sometimes as someone who works in non-profits as senior staff you live in two different worlds. My economic circumstances (and those of my colleagues) are vastly different than the people I work with day in day out as board members, foundation heads, corporate officers, etc… and there are different questions. How is this going to affect the organization I work for in terms of giving and our overall financial planning? and how is it going to affect the staff who are extraordinarily committed to the mission which is being cut back because of uncertainty in the broader economy (which is not to touch on their own financial precariousness – these people need their jobs to survive, they work for very little in comparison to comparable jobs in the corporate world, there is often no cushion…)? In the best sense, sometimes you feel like a bridge between wall street and main street; in the worst sense sometimes you feel like there is a considerable lack of understanding between the very wealthy who support your organization and the ordinary needs of people who work for non-profits.

    One of the things I find interesting is that there is not the same pledges of support from the philanthropic world to help sustain the organizations they fund, as happened after the financial difficulties following 9/11. I’m in the arts and worry that the excesses of wall street, and the fact that this community of donors has given so generously to the arts, now makes the arts organizations seem tainted, and I am sure that what is true for the arts is equally true in other non-profit sectors.

    I think in the non-profit community, some have benefitted more than others from wall street profits in the past years. At the same time, many non-profits used the boom of wall street money to provide services – in my experience, arts education – that has been cut from the budgets of local governments; many expenses are now shouldered by the non-profit arts community via grants from private sources. This is not to mention the many innovations in deliverly of services that have been funded by the private sector and delivered by non-profit entities in the absence of public financial support for innovation.

    Which is all to say that the bailout is a conundrum. I can honestly say that the disparity of wealth in this country pains me every day as someone who lives on a non-profit salary (just me, no trust fund, etc. I work just as hard as all my friends in the corporate world who make alot more money), yet it makes me happy when someone on the opposite side of the economic spectrum gives generously to my organization. But the larger question remains: when you’ve built an organization on exploiting that disparity – we’ve been robin hood taking from the rich and giving generously to the poor and underserved – it is a whole new set of challenges that lies ahead.

    I think most non-profits have learned how to play with the hand they’re dealt in terms of getting funding – we build our development departments and business plans around the kind of funders and funding for which we’re suited. The terms of the bailout will determine our strategies for funding our organizations. But how does that relate for what is good for those of us who work in non-profits, who are largely underpaid and underappreciated for the work they do in fostering the sense of community and contributing actively to the local economies in which they work?

  • Lisa Christie

    I strongly support the NPACH statement on the bailout ([url]http://npach.org/2008/09/npach_statement_bailout_must_h_1.html[/url]).

  • Brenda Peluso

    All I know is that I’m mad as hell and don’t know what the answer is. If just letting these gamblers fail won’t significantly make things worse for the rest of us, then let them fail. If they can find $700 billion for this cause, why can’t they make social security solvent – or appropriately fund state’s efforts to combat poverty and other social issues?

    Thanks for the chance to vent!

  • PhilFR

    I’m just enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching a Republican president desperately trying to nationalize an industry.

    A Republican Socialist Utopia? We do live in strange times!

  • Chuck Collins

    Ruth and Rick -Thanks for encouraging the conversation.

    There will be a potential populist moment in the coming year, because the wider public is deeply offended that we should use tax dollars to bailout Wall Street. I think the potential for highly targeted progressive taxation is much greater. Dedrick Muhammad and I wrote an article about how to raise $900 billion from very progressive sources: wealth tax ($200 billion), surcharge on income taxes over $5 million $105 B). See our article at: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/100223/

    The rhetoric Main St. vs Wall Street is politically important to delineate the real economy from the speculative economy. But we should also embrace financial markets as part of the commons that sustains healthy communities. Government and the nonprofit sector have an important role in ensuring that the financial markets are not turned into a speculative casino. Government oversight is how we protect this commons –and it is obvious that the high risk gamblers won the upperhand for the last decade. We should reclaim our financial market commons.

  • Gary Cook

    Did anyone notice Bernie Sanders yesterday dropping a short comment and then not elabortaing, as if he didn’t mean to say it: “I’m worried there may not be any more funds for affordable housing”.

    However, in my opinion on a different aspect, this point in time for America is exactly what happened to the assets of the people of the old Soviet Union. They were “sold off” and enriched the pockets of the “entrepreneurs” in the New Russia. It may not be to the point yet here where people are dying by the thousands for lack of food and a place to live, but the scenario is set; the dictating financial elite have gambled, and now the people of the US are expected to pay the gamblers’ losses. Odd, when no insurance policy can be purchased to cover gambling losses on the market, and yet here we have it.

  • Mark Robinson

    I am against the bailout in its current form. To reward the institutions that contributed to this collapse I think would only be a quick fix that would lead to more problems later. We need to pump resources into the non-profit sector, give money to local community economic develoment corporations, use some of those funds to help them acquire assets that they can turn into both affordable homes and rental units and help them offer more loans to homebuyers with reasonable terms. It is insane to have people of less means have to take on loans that have worse terms than those with means. It make sense to think that people with less wealth that are trying to build wealth would struggle to make payments with terms that are more taxing than those that have money already. We need our banks to be strong of course, but some might fail, but it might also be a bit of a weeding out process as well. So possibly we need to regroup with the survivors and then figure out how they need to be given more incentives to realistically support community lending and community development.

    Also, if this crisis were not so serious, it woulb be funny to see how someone like Bush would suggest a bailout that is basically socialism for the rich. It is laughable that someone that fought all regulations that could have kept the factors that led to the crisis from happening would now want to bail out the groups that irresponsibly let greed lead them down this path of destruction. So far my local credit union seems to be doing OK, I think the best thing that could happen in the crisis is to find a new way of doing business that is more bottom up and does not put the future of our country’s financial solvency in the hands of a handful of robber barons that may or may not do what is in the best interest of the average person and average investor.

  • Nancy

    Robbing Peter to pay Paul is a common expression to justify “creative accounting.” There is nothing creative about robbing the tax payers to pay off the debts of campaign contributors and other business associates. How convenient that as the current administration prepares to leave a sinking ship, they take off like rats with truckloads of money laundered assets. Then to add insult to injury, Bush and his gang rip off the taxpayers and make arrangements to live the rest of their miserable lives at the expense of the people who never really voted them in!

  • Sylvia J. Jackson

    I’m feeling a little melancholy today. I looked @ some footage from Hurricane Ike and a piece on the struggle of African-Americans in this country and I feel like who ever bailed us out? Who ever stood up to say, as a country we purposely kept a group of people in the dark about their heritage and then hurt and disenfranchised them, let’bail them out. The people in New orleans and Mississippi, those in Texas and Missouri need bailing out, too. Why is it that the rich always get more? AIG, Liebermann, Fannie Mae and other huge companies have mis-managed millions. What if we changed the focus from the rich get richer to the middle and lower income get their fair share. I am not ignorant to the fact that we cannot afford to lose our place in the global economy, but greed to the extent to which the U.S. has adapted is sinful. Our country has imploded as I predicted it would several years ago from sheer avarice and gross consumerism. We don’t produce anything or invest in the right things such as teachers and care givers and youth and the elderly. No don’t bail them out, at lerast not to the tune of $700 billion. Make them think and plan and revise and produce, just like the rest of us.

  • Jerry Pops

    This is truly a “do you trust the experts” game, and the experts differ!
    Either there is a profound connection between financial industry practices
    and “Main Street” or there is not, and it all depends on whether you trust
    Paulson and Bernanke on one side, or Robert Samuelson on the other. McCain
    is posturing as “the leader” who can get consensus in a crisis; he is
    playing a high-risk political game.

  • Charlie Bernstein

    We were really doing great for a while there.

    From the end of WWII through the sixties, the U.S. had two huge advantages: We had strong federal regulations separating banks from investors, and we were the only industrial giant left standing.

    By the seventies, though, Japan, Germany, and other countries had build thriving, modern industries – just as our Rust Belt base was aging and losing its competitiveness. Suddenly other giants were around. Suddenly, runaway shops – what we now call out-sourcing – plagued the nation.

    Stagflation set in, and Jimmy Carter, who did so much around energy policy but couldn’t (or at least didn’t) do a whole lot to address the reality of the growing competitiveness other industrial powers, was voted out.

    Ron Reagan and the so-called supply-siders swept into office and launched a lusty attack against sane, strong regulation.

    Since then, four presidents – three Republicans and a Democrat – have made deregulation their mantra. They spent almost thirty years planting the bomb and lighting the fuse. It’s finally blowing up.

    We can’t take another four years of this. Either we bring back the safeguards we had during the Carter era, or this could truly be the end of society as we know it.

    I don’t envy Barack Obama the mess he and Congress will have to clean up. But if he loses, the clean-up won’t happen.

    I hate the bail-out idea, but there doesn’t seem to be much choice. The question is, will it set the economy up for repeat performances down the road, or can it be done in a way that restores integrity and confiidence?

    Right now, Congressional Democrats have to push aside the Republicans who want to let the current non-system stand, and come together around a reform-oriented bail-out plan that Bush can’t refuse.

    Welcome to interesting times.

  • Dr B.S.Suran

    1.I read the article with interest, yes its true that the significance of the financial sector in U.S. philanthropy is huge ..its likely these events would slow the funds from banks to non-profits. It certainly has cascading effects. The main worry for the non-profits is get the financial resources and continue with the commitments that have been made for various projects, lest, it would be dashing the hopes of millions of have-nots. I am not very conversant with the funding support that is available for non-profits. In India, we do have separate funds created out of profits of corporates & government contributions to fund many charitable / and capacity enhancing programmes for the poor( eg in microFinance : this is besides the direct poverty alleviation programmes for the poor). I am not sure whether such funding support would be available for the Non-profits directly from Govt or Fed- we could make a case for it.

    2.As regards the Bail out : The Fed and the Govt will have to tide over the present crises, by nationalisation, corporate mergers , consortium takeovers etc . The bail out packages that is being planned well have to thrown open first , with clear conditionalities for performance , clean up of accounting systems , improving transparency , limiting leverages and off-balance sheet liabilities, fixing management responsibility. It Govt should fix responsibility o the auditors , who failed to point out such weakness in the system . It could also consider freezing assets ( partly) of the wrong doers. In short the measures have to be stringent , with clear message for unhealthy dealings. The supervisors will have to also spell out clear “ Early warning signals

  • Peggie Thorp

    The bailout concerns me not in its substance as much as its shot-gun presentation. There has not been nearly enough time to ask the right questions in terms of longer-term impact.

    Substantively, I want to believe that the millions who have lost their homes and jobs will realize some help from this bailout that is commensurate with the help being considered for those whose practices got us into this mess.

    That said, I think it’s healthy to consider some balance in responsibility for what is happening. In my view the crisis has been a long time coming and is due to a systemic addiction to credit in this country – from the government all the way to the individual consumer. Coupled with an historic and chronic reluctance to save, I find many of us somewhat complicit in the current debacle.

    Finally, if I had to dump the weight (not all the weight) of responsibility on anyone it would be on whomever is supposed to have been watching the store. Regardless of how we got here, someone dropped the ball on oversight. Peggie Thorp

  • Peter Manda

    It’s time to end the era of trickle down economics. Rather than invest the 700 billion dollars to bail out fancy derivatives and speculators, we should take that 700 billion dollars and invest them in our communities and neighborhoods, in the health of our citizens, and in our infrastructure. Healthy and vibrant neighborhoods, a strong infrastructure, and a population not struck by the morbidity of exhorbitant health care bills are the foundations for a vibrant and health economy.

  • Rogier Gregoire

    The process that the administration has unfolded looks very much like the presidents efforts to drag us into a war of aggression in Iraq. Dire threats to the “homeland” and a stampede to commit the wealth of the nation to what turned out to be lies partial truth hung on a frail framework of lies and deceptions. Never fully explained by the president or the duped members of congress that voted for it. If the president and his proxy the secretary of the treasury can’t provide a better explanation that the public can understand and say why the money is needed we should not give them a penny. If they can;t tell us how we got here with greater clarity then let the chips fall where they may. This looks like theft to me.
    Rogier Gregoire

  • Ruth Norris

    I agree with the bailout principles outlined in Howell Jackson’s article in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor. The right way to go about the bailout is public acquisition of the mortgage pools, putting the government in the position of renegotiating the loans – helping those who were truly duped, letting the speculators pay for their mistakes, and assessing some of the costs to the financial institutions. Please read the entire article at the following link.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0925/p09s02-coop.html

  • Rogier Gregoire

    This bailout is indicative if a flawed economic system designed to move the wealth of the nation from the many to the few at the top. First the congress allowed the banks to convert mortgages into securities by undoing the Glass Stiegal act of 193 – that encouraged them to use fraud to move consumer wealth into the financial markets unimpeded by regulation.
    When Elliot Spitzer NY Attorney General complained about the bank fraud The President forbid him to act on banks that had a national footing thereby protecting the criminal acts of the banks. Then the republicans with the support of Joe Biden created the bankruptcy protection act the removed REMOVED individual protection while leaving corporate rights untouched making those who got rotten mortgages liable for the interest even if the property is foreclosed.

    The financial system allowed the hedge fund industry to leverage massive parts of the world economy and allowed them to move the profits of multinationals off shore for protection.

    This house of cards has now toppled and the scheme created by Paulson from when he was at Goldman Sachs and now Secretary of the Treasury has now unwound completely. This is systemic theft on a massive scale and this administration is responsible. let this system die, perhaps what remains or rises will serve the needs of the people and the society.

  • Jeff Smith

    The economic crisis is so much deeper than the mortgage credit issue and I wonder if anyone truly has the ability to understand it. This all feels like a trip to a car mechanic who, after unsuccessful attempts at diagnosing the problem, says, “we’ll try to fix it by changing this part.” Heck, it might work, who knows? And, it’s the customer’s money.

    In the short term, the bailout will probably help the markets mostly by soothing the anxiety of Wall Street. That in turn will allow foundations and private donors to continue to grow their funds and continue contributions. The longer term is of greater concern and the bailout must call for or require regulation to provide reduced risk to the market and, thus, foundations and donors. The bailout must give the government the ability to sell mortgages and stocks as soon as possible at a profit in order not to negatively affect those programs upon which we depend for assistance for our clients.

    $700 billion is a lot of money. I beg Congress to take their time and think (I repeat, think) through the ramifications to everyone including our not-for-profit services which add humanity to our society.

  • Brian Hoffart

    Like (never) before our sector is now needed. Blame, doubt and denial are the least of what is required. Let our resolve, hope and leadership meet this gap.

  • Kay Decker

    The federal government should not bail out Wall Street. I feel that Wall Street should repair its own mess starting at the top with the various CEOs, COOs and CFOs of the lending institutions, hedge funds, and brokerage firms who contributed to the mess. The assets held by a small handful of individuals can and should be used to bolster Wall Street. The federal government is not responsible for this (ie..the taxpayer is not responsible). Federal agency budgets are already extremely compromised and incapable of assisting small, rural communities, inner city populations, and those families whose working income cannot buy decent housing, food, healthcare, and transportation. We cannot expect the American taxpayer to support the bad behaviors of a handful of extremely wealthy individuals who have yet to give up even 10 percent of their own assets. The working poor should not be asked to financially support the extremely wealthy.

  • Nikki Kirk

    I think it is unfair and very inappropriate of the government to bail out greedy corporations with taxpayer dollars. I feel that the corporations crafted instruments for personal gain without regard to those with very little financial literacy. The government has oversteped its boundaries by de-regulating without reviewing the effects of their actions over a long period of time.

    I feel that all of Congress over the last 15 years has been responsible for neglecting their duties and reading the fine print as they ask us to do! No one bails out small business. As a matter of fact personal credit determines whether or not you receive a business line of credit. This means you are able to show you have been responsible with fiduciary responsibilities. Why is it that big business and Wall Street gets a helping hand? When people are laid off because of them, gas and food prices are higher because of their “predictions”, people are homeless and starving,there is nothing wrong with that?

    Organizations that try to do good for the less fortunate and those in need get their federal dollars cut to send to rebuild Iraq, Afghanistan, and any other infrastructure but their own.

    I think we are in a sad state of affairs if we think another “we must do this now” action will solve our problems. America’s problem has been greed by the top 5% of our country and now our chickens have come home to roost. The fox is on his last chicken before he gets caught.

  • Cindy Reinhardt

    I think Rep. Dennis Kucinich has a perspective worthy of reading, considering and supporting:

    Dear Friend,

    The U.S. government has been turned into an engine that accelerates the
    wealth upwards into the hands of a few. The Wall Street bailout, the Iraq
    War, military spending, tax cuts to the rich, and a for-profit health care
    system are all about the acceleration of wealth upwards. And now, the
    American people are about to pay the price of the collapse of the $513
    trillion Ponzi scheme of derivatives. Yes, that’s half a quadrillion
    dollars. Our first trillion dollar compression bandage will hardly stem the
    hemorrhaging of an unsustainable Ponzi scheme built on debt “de-leverages.”

    Does anyone seriously think that our public and private debts of some $45
    trillion will be paid? That the administration’s growth of the federal debt
    from $5.6 trillion to $9.8 trillion while borrowing another trillion dollars
    from Social Security has nothing to do with this? Does anyone not see that
    when we spend nearly $16,000 for every family of four in our society for the
    military each year that we are heading over the cliff?

    This is a debt crisis, not a credit crisis. Just as FDR had to save
    capitalism after Wall Street excesses, we have to re-invigorate our economy
    with real – not imaginary – growth. It does not address the never-ending war
    on the middle class.

    The same corporate interests that profited from the closing of U.S.
    factories, the movement of millions of jobs out of America, the off-shoring
    of profits, the out-sourcing of workers, the crushing of pension funds, the
    knocking down of wages, the cancellation of health care benefits, the
    sub-prime lending are now rushing to Washington to get money to protect
    themselves.

    The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their
    losses are our losses.

    This bailout will not bring real jobs back to America. It will not bring
    back jobs that make things. It does not rebuild our schools, streets,
    neighborhoods, parks or bridges. The major product of this financial economy
    is now debt. Industrial capitalism has been destroyed.
    In the next few days I will push for a plan that includes equity for every
    American in any taxpayer investment in this so-called bail-out plan. Since
    the bailout will cost each and every American about $2,300, I have proposed
    the creation of a United States Mutual Trust Fund, which will take control
    of $700 billion in stock assets, convert those assets to shares, and
    distribute $2,300 worth of shares to new individual savings accounts in the
    name of each and every American.
    I will also insist that all of the following issues be considered in
    whatever Congress passes:

    1. Reinstatement of the provisions of Glass-Steagall, which forbade
    speculation
    2. Re-regulation of the finance, insurance, and real estate industries
    3. Accountability on the part of those who took the companies down:
    a) resignations of management
    b) givebacks of executive compensation packages
    c) limitations on executive compensation
    d) admission by CEO’s of what went wrong and how, prior to any government
    bailout
    4. Demands for transparencey
    a) with respect to analyzing the transactions which took the companies
    down
    b) with respect to Treasury’s dealings with the companies pre and
    post-bailout
    5. An equity position for the taxpayers
    a) some form of ownership of assets
    6. Some credible formula for evaluating the price of the assets that
    the government is buying.
    7. A sunset clause on the legislation
    8. Full public disclosure by members of Congress of assets held, with
    possible conflicts put in blind trust.
    9. A ban on political campaign contributions from officers of
    corporations receiving bailouts
    10. A requirement that 2008 cycle candidates return political
    contributions to officers and representatives of corporations receiving
    bailouts

    And, most importantly, some mechanism for direct assistance to homeowners
    saddled with unreasonable or unmanageable mortgages, as well as protection
    for renters who have lived up to their obligation but fall victim to
    financial tragedy when the property they live in undergoes foreclosure.

    These are just some thoughts on the run. You will hear more from me
    tomorrow.

    Dennis J Kucinich

  • Jem Bendell

    A bailout of any banks using public funds should only occur in return for those banks agreeing to act more explicitly in the public interest in concrete ways.

    Thus, participating banks must have to agree to:

    a) ensure no reduction of banking facilities provided to the general public in the next year
    b) suspend all potential bonuses for the current year, and roll these into a new bonus system based on performance over 4 years, which must not total more than an equivalent of double a salary during that period
    c) within one year complete and publish a carbon audit on all investments, and a plan to reduce the carbon profile of investments through shifting investments or engaging the management of those investments
    d) provide an equity stake for the government to ensure that if the toxic assets do not recover some value that the government has some share of the banks other assets
    e) sign up to the UN Principle on Responsible Investment (UNPRI) to learn how to be a more socially progressive financial institution.

    Then, in the longer run, we need to plan and facilitate a slow transition to a more balanced global financial system, one that curbs all speculation, limits shortselling and derivatives, moves back from fair value accounting to a more concrete assessment of assets, deals with the problem of all money being debt-money that drives an unsustainable growth imperative, and that creates new duties of responsibility on bearers of private property rights (both financial and non financial).

  • Howard Silberstein

    I believe that the financial woes that we are experiencing should be self adjusted. I do not believe that we should bail out these institutions who have not really been consumer friendly. I think that this is a perfect opportunity to “right-size” our economy. It is also an opportunity to put our people to work creating jobs that focus on resolving infrastructure issues. I believe also that legislation should be passed to marginalize this from ever happening again. Will this suggestion hurt. Yes, in the beginning…but we are a nation of cultures that pull together the very best of ourselves to ensure our respective futures.

    Philanthropically I believe that “giving” will not suffer too much. There will be a hit regarding investments if non-profits did not diversify their portfolios but on the whole the non-profit world will not suffer too much. And, in fact, there may be some consolidation of like services that may be more practical and reach more people in need.

  • Janine Perron

    In eight years of the Bush Administration, we have seen the stifling of public discussion and the freedom of the media, the dismantling of agencies
    designed to regulate industry and protect people and the environment, and a
    squandering of resources that has disproportionately benefited the wealthy.
    Given this history, one reacts inevitably to Administration plans and
    proclamations with a reflex of scepticism. Is it true that we absolutely
    must act within a week? How certain is the Administration that this plan
    will produce longer-term relief?

    My hope is that folks will finally say, echoing the movie Network, “I’m mad
    as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!” A wonderful outcome of this
    crisis could be that people find their voice again and demonstrate, taking
    to the streets and to the halls of legislator and public officials to demand
    a new commitment to civil society. Nonprofits have kept the flame alive; it
    is time for everyone to join in.

  • Lester M. Salamon

    I could go along with this bailout under certain conditions, some of
    which have apparently been agreed to, but others not. Most important
    to me are these:

    1) The goal of the effort should be to transform problem loans into
    affordable loans. In other words, the true beneficiaries should be
    the homeowners.

    2) For this goal to be met, a long-term effort will be
    required. Therefore, this should not be done by the Treasury
    Department. Rather, I favor the creation of a Restoration Trust
    Corp-type entity. Treasury does not have the people to carry out such
    a function. They will therefore contract most of the work out with
    minimal supervision, which will be an invitation to having taxpayers
    and homeowners fleeced. An RTC entity staffed by public servants will
    have a much better chance of pursuing a public interest-oriented
    approach that favors homeowners;

    3) If the problem loans are purchased, the prices should be
    discounted enough to cover the administrative costs of working out
    the problem loans and adjusting the rates to make the loans affordable;

    4) Nonprofits could play a useful role in assisting the RTC-type
    agency in converting problem loans into affordable loans by working
    with the borrowers to devise workable arrangements. Funding for this
    should be included in the package, either directly or as part of the
    discount applied to the cost of the purchased loans. This would
    finally give us a real low-income housing program, if only by the back door.

  • doris heroff

    An ten trillion dollar debt should be scaring us more than this 700 billion dollar bailout….and after 7 years of record profits, will financial institutions really cut out giving just because of one year of debt?

  • Jerry S. Bartone

    The financial sector meltdown and loss of tax revenues will impact nearly every non-profit organization that receives NY state funding.

    I am hopeful that the crisis will lead to long overdue systemic improvements in the health and human service sectors. If the crisis leads to deregulating non-funded mandates, eliminating redundant programs, streamlining funding processes, eliminating needless bureaucrats, incentives for electronic health/medical records, broad healthcare reform, quality improvement incentives (I can go on and on), then we will have a far more efficient and effective non-profit sector.

  • Dr B.S.Suran

    On a second thought … i am not sure whether in the long run ….I do not know whether bailing out the collapsing financial firm is good for the system or not bailing out the financial firm is good for the taxpayer in the long term?. But I am sure that those managements of the collapsing financial firms are no better than criminals. Causing financial collapse of the USA (and thereby that of many other countries) is no better than causing genocide. Therefore, all those reckless managements who caused the financial collapse of their respective firms must be tried by an international court and punished. Bailout or otherwise can be decided by the lawmakers

  • Deb Jennings

    I oppose the Bush Wall Street Bailout Scheme!

    Before one taxpayer dollar is used to nationalize the losses of the Wall Street corporations that got us into this mess in the first place, we need to help working people who are struggling to pay their bills, facing unemployment and are in danger of losing their homes.

    We Demand:
    Equity: Taxpayers must receive equity stakes in the bailed-out companies so that the taxpayers’ assumption of risk is rewarded when companies’ stock goes up.

    Public oversight – The bailout must not be controlled by a single individual – much less one who does not even stand for election. Any funds must be controlled by an independent entity, with consumers and workers given seats on its board.
    Congress must be empowered to name independent monitors and approve all board members.

    Aid the victims, not the predators – Any Plan must include a major economic recovery package, which puts Americans to work at decent wages. We should create millions of jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and moving our country from fossil fuels to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Further, we must protect our must vulnerable families from the very difficult times they are experiencing. To protect victims of predatory loans, any bailout must impose a six-month moratorium on foreclosures and provide homeowners with a full array of financial and legal tools to modify their home loans. Where workouts are not feasible, people should be allowed to stay in their homes as renters.

    Smart Regulation – Repeal the disastrous de-regulatory legislation that facilitated this crisis. Financial corporations must be subject to meaningful oversight that will deter the abusive practices that maximize profit but destroy neighborhoods. This includes extending the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to investment banks and insurance companies.

  • Ellen Behrens

    What’s most troubling is that in all the dialogue, I’ve not heard nor seen these words, which seem particularly apt:
    “fraud”
    “criminals”
    “prison time”
    “punishment”
    Nor have I heard demands for bailing out social security, investing money to balance the trade deficit or help bridge the increasing gap between affordability and tuition rates….
    Who’s driving this dialogue? And why are we so unwilling to redefine the terms?

  • Justice Nyigmah Bawole

    The issues involved in the bailout are probably complex than being discussed now. I have asked myself a couple of times what will happen if the crisis continues in spite of the bailout? But i have also asked myself what will happen if the bailout gets thrown out by senate. i think that as public administration expert, I think the state has ultimate responsibility for keeping the economy going. the bailout is in respect appropriate too get the state going and to protect the looming danger.

  • Phyllis Saylor

    My thoughts on the bailout???

    What should our government do???

    Nothing. That’s what our government should do on the bail-out situation, absolutely nothing.

    If you build a house of cards, it seems reasonable that any breeze will make it fall.

    Senior executives walking away with millions in their pockets when this tune has played just a few years ago and the government used MY tax dollars and YOUR tax dollars to help pad their nest-eggs.

    Let them fail, let them ALL fail. Maybe, just maybe the message to the rest still standing will finally clarify: no bail-out for you either, so get your act together and make it work, stop paying your exec’s millions of dollars each year, and run your businesses like businesses.

    Who cares if they fail? I don’t. Let the dust settle and we will all see a new point of view in this country in terms of business – NO BAILOUTS for ANYONE!

    Homes are being foreclosed on because stupid people didn’t read what they were signing. Are we going to also bail out all the stupid people? If so, wait just a few more days so I can refinance my house for more than it’s worth, I’ll sign for a mortgage I can’t possibly afford, and you can add me to the stupid-people bail-out list!

    Now…, if our government Is so anxious to spend our tax dollars why don’t they spend it on real-people, real people who have hit the bottom of the barrel, people who lost all of their food in Ohio and elsewhere in the mid-west due to the Ike left-over winds? Families who can’t feed their kids because they have lost their jobs when business went to other counties, old people who have nothing and no-one and who live on $500 per month in social security benefits???; Like I said real people! Why not throw some money at these people or at the agencies who feed them or clothe them?

    No, not our government, who long, long ago forgot that they are to be “of the people and for the people” but who only help other countries or bail out huge businesses so the have’s can have more and the have-not’s are kept in their place. Our government that maintains a 2-class retirement system for the have’s and the have-not’s. Our government who just votes themselves pay raises whenever the spirit moves them. Our government that has the power to make a real difference in the lives of the governed but is too caught up with their own self-righteousness and power that few can see beyond the end of their desk to truly see the realities the rest of the people. Our government who talks-the-talk but never walks-the-walk.

    Any other questions?

  • Laura Maurer

    It is disgraceful that we taxpayers must bail out the very businesses who
    have held us captive with increasing interest rates and decreasing
    benefits for so long. How many years have we watched with increasing
    disbelief, as retiring and even disgraced executives have walked away with
    golden, nay, platinum parachutes? How long have we seen similar
    executives receive 7 and 8 figure salaries with often larger bonuses
    for less successful business results?

    I am not sure whether I am shocked or not, but I am deeply, deeply
    disappointed.

    When will the United States of America start to take care of
    its citizenry, the lifeblood of the republic?

    The saying from the 60’s & 70’s still rings true…”It will be a great day
    when our schools get all the money they need, and the Air Force has to
    hold a bakesale to buy a bomber.”

    If this message is coherent enough, you are welcome to post it on your site.

    Thank you for the opportunity to speak my mind…

  • Christine Sasse

    I believe that the CEO’s and high rolling managers of the financial institutions made very poor decisions. I’d like to take the bums and throw them out, sans golden parachutes, and allow the market to heal itself. However, I believe that would trigger an international depression, considering the global interdependency of such institutions. My choice is to follow the example of the Chrysler solution from 1979: loan them the money at a lower interest rate, make them take their medicine, insist they clean up their act, and repay the money. Then we must endure the temporary but painful recession that will occcur. Nothing good will come of this crisis in the short run. Excesses and human greed will always result in consequences. But the inevitable recession is far more palatable than the potential for a global depression.

  • Maggie Cardwell

    I heard one average American state on the news “How about bailing me out first”. That probably made more sense, although comical, than anything that has been said. How far fetched is it?
    What once was middle class no longer exist. Both mother and father have had to work for years to maintain. Children are either left to themselves or raised by strangers. We have been in a depression for a very long time.
    I believe that bailing out the middle class is the only solution. We are the ones that have floated the economy all these years.The greed of those in power set the economy in a spin.
    Until they give the working class back their dignity, as far as the working class is concerned wall street can crash and burn and live like the rest of us. I also think that every bank that issued an adjustable rate loan should either fold or secure the loan at an affordable rate.These are the loans that crashed the housing market.
    I personally would love to see a 61 million dollar buy out CEO have to learn to can his own food.

  • Eleanor Drewniak

    My grandmother and I used to sit on her porch (before she passed away at 94 years of age). She would talk to me about the depression years she lived through. That very wise woman would be able to tell us just exactly what we have to look forward to for the next few years. Human service needs will rise while funds are cut. We are survivors in the non-profit world. We don’t play games with the lives of the people we serve. No matter how government tries to disguise it, we will be cleaning up their mess. Eleanor Drewniak

  • M. Starita Boyce-Ansari, Ph.D.

    The financial institutions should return the TARP money, since they have funds for bonuses. The TARP money should be granted to community foundations to best manage the needs of the communities they serve.