1. Nobody, absolutely nobody, has more incentive to get this right than the Obama Administration. If the economy collapses — well, more than it already has collapsed — then the Democrats get slaughtered in 2010
If the economy collapses, we’ll have way more to worry about than just a midterm election. This isn’t some little partisan kerfuffle where everyone choose sides, goes “Neener, neener” at the opposition, then hopes to score points on the talk shows. It’s about the freaking economy and how we keep it functioning. We really are all in this together.
2. If the banks fail, then rich people lose a lot of money, and poor people lose a lot of jobs (and also much of what money they have). But I swear to God, there’s a lunatic fringe out there that would take this trade and call it “progress”.
As Doug Henwood puts it, calling for the collapse of the economic system “is not leftism, it’s nihilism.” Sort of like the Joker in The Dark Knight, he just likes to destroy things.
3. I’m sorry, but somewhere between 99.9% and 99.999999% of us are severely underqualified to be making policy recommendations on this particular issue.
4. So if I’m telling you to lay off the ideological smelling salts (not that you will) and that your ideas on policy are probably not contributing very much to the discussion (don’t worry — neither are mine) then what, exactly, do I want you to do?
What I’m asking you to do is to clear the playing field. This is neither the time nor the place for mass movements — this is the time for expert opinion. Once the experts (and I’m not one of them) have reached some kind of a consensus about what the best course of action is (and they haven’t yet), then figure out who is impeding that action for political or other disingenuous reasons and tackle them — do whatever you can to remove them from the playing field. But we’re not at that stage yet.
This needs to be done in a careful, deliberate manner. And we only get one chance. Remember what happened when they let Lehman Brothers go broke. It led inexorably to the cratering of the economy of Iceland. So we need to get it right.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is realize we sink or swim together.