By Matthew Rothschild on January 13, 2009

Why in the world should we be giving the banks another $350 billion?

They caused this financial crisis in the first place.

Then Bush and Paulson just threw billions of dollars at them.

Bush and Paulson didn’t demand a voting share of these banks.

And the banks weren’t required to lend to businesses, though that was the main rationale for the bailout.

Nor were the banks required to refinance mortgages and go easy on foreclosures, though this is what triggered the crisis.

Basically, the banks weren’t required to do anything accept open their wallets.

And afterward, they didn’t even have to tell us, the taxpayers, what they did with the money, which was essentially to hoard it.

Now they deserve $350 billion more?

You’ve got to be kidding.

But that’s what Bush is saying. And he formally asked Congress to OK this second disbursement.

The odd thing is that Obama urged Bush to do so.

Yeah, Obama says he’ll impose a lot more stringent requirements on what the banks do with that money, but if it’s not in the legislation, and the banks get the money anyway, what leverage will he have?

On top of that, we could use this $350 billion in much wiser and more progressive ways—by helping people stay in their homes, for instance.

“We all have a huge stake in stopping this heist,” as Naomi Klein told me a couple of months ago.

Congress shouldn’t be dispensing the $350 billion.

It should be saying, “Stop, thief!”

See Which Banks Got How Much from Hank Paulson and You, the Taxpayer

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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