I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking — with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Fireside Chat “On the Bank Crisis” – March 12, 1933
Delivered from the President’s Study in the White House at 10 PM

I’ve heard stories about the Great Depression from my elders and they also shared the lessons. So I’m not trippin’ today that the bailout bill didn’t pass.

There’s a whole lot of yadda yadda about the Great Depression these days, especially from people who never lived it and only take it at face value. There’s not enough talk about how the nation got through it. Even during the Great Depression and beyond conservatives and Wall Street fat cats have wanted to burry and kill New Deal politics. Even Democrats put their toe in the water with a little welfare reform. Sure New Deals become old hat after awhile, but I bet we’ll be seeing a lot of FDR references in the coming months. Uncle Teddy R., the star of the RNC convention, will have to bring up the rear.

So the cat is out of the bag -the US economy was a credit-based system from the top down. No solid assets or collateral to cover mounting debt. Debt was the asset and now…..What is the real value of these banks and credits?

Yeah, the Depression sucked. The Dust Bowl was a real blow to the American heartland – read John Steinbeck for more insight. Segregation and racism made the Depression a double whammy for African Americans and Hispanics.

It seemed everything natural and unnatural was against us especially the financial situation. But the newly elected President in 1933 took it upon himself to let the American people know what was going on. That was the reasoning behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats that were broadcast live on radio. He didn’t spew fear talk. FDR talked to the people as citizens. That is what I find missing from our current situation; leadership willing to talk to and connect with citizens about what is happening, how it will affect them, why our tax investment is needed, and how citizens can help. The citizens have been very clear that the bailout plan is a non-starter and it’s the people’s good fortune that this meltdown occured just before an election. The best time to be heard.

To be honest, my gut’s saying the powers that be in official Washington have no idea what’s in those bank packages and how this deregulated system has been operating over the past 20 plus years. This isn’t your New Deal economy. It’s also caught up in some global markets which adds another layer to the problem. I don’t deny this is complicated. But where’s the chat from the leader to explain it all to us?

The government’s top economic experts warn that without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic, and a distressing scenario would unfold:
More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs. Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession.

President George W. Bush – September 24, 2008
President’s Address to the Nation
Delivered from the State Floor, 9:01 PM

It seems hard to make the case for the bailout when the benefits are to take on more debt(?!) I remember President Bush’s call to shop after 9-11. Shopping was our patriotic duty.

But I get the feeling we, the people are saying, we won’t be satisfied until someone much more fortunate and richer feels our pain. This may be the game of chicken where the lawmakers are compelled to turn their wheel first. How about we stop the gaming and let’s all be citizens together and solve the problem.