Why Not a Gazillion Dollars?

When I heard that we may spend a trillion or more dollars bailing banks and other financial institutions out of their current crises, I find it hard to put my fingers on what a trillion dollars looks like.  But I think it’s something like this–I watched this show called “Duck Tales” starring Scrooge McDuck and other duck characters.  Every so often Scrooge McDuck would go for a swim in his big ol’ vat o’ gold.  And, of course, the basic plot of the show involved criminals trying to steal his money.  I think that Scrooge had at least a trillion dollars worth of gold.  (Watch the intro to “Duck Tales” below and see “Uncle Scrooge” swimming around in his vat o’ gold.  The lyrics are actually in German because it just seemed more entertaining).

Of course, Scrooge, who originates from the highlands of Scotland immigrated to the United States and earned his fortune making savvy business decisions.  He isn’t actually swimming in taxpayer money, is he?

Even though I watch “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” I don’t understand the goobly guck behind all this financial jargon, but I do know this much–companies like Lehman Brothers and AIG going bankrupt is very bad for our economy, so much so that the government is willing to bail ’em out.  However, they could use upwards of $2 trillion to do it!  Two. Trillion. Dollars. (Full story)

Besides the fact that the government is using *our* money to do it, when have these companies ever given us a break?  I mean, sure, they’re getting bailed out, but what about all those crazy bills we still have to pay?  How is it fair that the government will pay these guys not to go bankrupt but requires me to pay off my measley student loans? In comparison, my college/grad school loans are pocket change.

Without getting into specifics, I know the pain and frustration of not being able to pay bills.  I remember the sleep I didn’t get while the financial figures kept rolling around in my mind.  I still cringe sometimes when the phone rings as I recall bill collectors nasty collection calls.  I seriously thank God that I’ve got enough resources and cash to provide for me, even though I wish I had a little more (don’t we all?)  But, my goodness, imagine the people who with the utmost of dignity attempt to pay their bills every money.  The ones who sit up late after the kids have gone to bed and talk in whispers about which bills could be skipped this month.  When I think of a trillion dollars, I think of these people.

And, no, they’re not all living in the ghetto or people who have charged up credit cards buying plasma televisions and Nintendo Wii’s.  A lot of them are hard-working people–your neighbors or friends or family–that may have taken out a bad loan to buy a house or fell behind due to high gas prices or job loss.  Perhaps they fall into that health care coverage gap and had to pay full price for their medications for a couple of months.  An unexpected car accident or a disability–who knows?  The point is that many in this crunch aren’t people who were careless; they were people who had life happen to them.  People like you or me or maybe you and me.

The truth is that working hard isn’t always enough and hard work isn’t always measured by a pay check.  There are a lot of hard working people who are underpaid or unemployed or disabled that can’t make ends meet.  To me, it seems that these are the folks who should be getting a couple trillion dollars, not big businesses with CEO’s who retire mutiple millionaires.

I know that by bailing out these companies we’re avoiding (or trying to avoid) economic collapse, unemployment, and perhaps a depression.  At the end of the day, perhaps more lives are being preserved using these extreme means to save big business.  However, I don’t know anyone who works for a big business and I don’t dine with financiers.  You might say we travel in very different circles.  I can’t even afford the gas for their circles.

I do know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck, who are barely scraping by, if they scrape by at all.  I’ve seen financially secure people become insecure wrecks as the pills pile up.  It’s for these people I am crying, not AIG or Lehman Brothers.  I just imagine how two trillion dollars could not only improve the lives of people here in the U.S. but also to those abroad who we support with aid.  But then again, what’s a couple of million to people who are millionaires?  Just the difference between life and death for the vast majority of the impoverished all over the globe.

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