George Graham

Give Those Billions to the Homeowners; That Might Solve the Crisis

foreclosureIs this some kind of weird comedy routine, or what? Is American Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson really telling the members of Congress that they must bail out the financial fat cats and not even throw a few crumbs to the people who are losing their homes? It’s like that scene in “Blazing Saddles” where the sheriff takes himself hostage. Congress should tell Paulson to go ahead and pull the trigger.

So if the taxpayers don’t shell out seven hundred billion dollars, the “financial system” will collapse, will it? Isn’t that a shame? Who are the people involved in the “financial system”?  The kind of people who are getting hurt by Wall Street’s meltdown have condos overlooking Central Park and some even have villas in Europe. Most ordinary Americans don’t have investments or even 401K funds to worry about. They live paycheck to paycheck.  A frugal few might have a CD tucked away somewhere, or possibly an annuity. But most of the people who have money in the stock market belong to the “upper middle class.” Yep, people like Wolf and Morning Joe, Contessa and Campbell, Rush and O’Reilly  – the highly paid media types who give television viewers their perspective on the news. It’s no wonder they described the Wall Street crash as a “tsunami.” It’s a tsunami to them out there in the Hamptons, but not to the long-haul truck driver who had to park his rig because of the high price of gas.  Or to the guy mowing lawns and clipping hedges for a few bucks. To most ordinary taxpayers it’s a foreign event – like those earthquakes in China or suicide bombings in Pakistan.

If I had a vote in Congress, it would be “No!” No, Mr. Paulson, your financial whiz kids got themselves into this mess; let them get themselves out of it. I don’t think AIG is “too big to fail.” Let the damn thing fail and let the chips fall where they may. If I had seven hundred billion dollars, as the American government appears to have, I would use it to take over the mortgages that homeowners can’t afford and make them affordable so folks could stay in their homes. And guess what that might do? AIG and the rest might not have to go belly up, after all. The economy would probably perk right up.

If the defaulting homeowners start paying their mortgages, the paper that Wall Street whiz kids are holding might then be worth something. You see, Mr. Paulson, those pieces of paper (many of them, anyway) would no longer represent bad debts but restructured mortgages, which would have value. It’s called bottom-up economics. You must have heard of it. No? Of course not! You’re a Republican.

paulson2Not just any Republican but an extremely controversial member of the financial community. The Web is full of shadowy tales that may or may not be true. These stories tell of an ambassador named Leo Emil Wanta, who is said to have gone public with a charge of massive corruption by the last three presidential administrations. According to several accounts on the Web, Wanta said former U.S. presidents and officials pilfered hundreds of trillions of dollars, diverting the off-shore money to CIA activities (and other less patriotic purposes) instead of using it to protect and defend the U.S. as intended by former President Reagan. According to these reports, Wanta was jailed for years as a result. If you Google Paulson (photo at right), you will be sure to come across reports that he was arrested in Germany (but quickly released) in connection with the diversion of $4.3 trillion of this money. The report was, of course, denied by a Bush administration flak.

Look, you know and I know that there’s a lot of strange stuff on the Web, and I have no way of confirming any of those stories about Paulson. As far as I know, he might be just another big shot in the world of high finance. He was the chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group, described by President Bush as “one of the most respected firms on Wall Street,” when he appointed Paulson as Treasury Secretary in May. But before Congress hands this man a blank check for purposes no one fully understands, don’t you think someone should do a little vetting? Doesn’t anyone remember the Savings & Loan rip-off 20 years ago, and has no one read those investigative articles and books claiming that those vanished billions went partly to organized crime and partly to the CIA?

I just heard Tom Brokaw interviewing Paulson on NBC-TV’s  “Meet the Press,”  and he never breathed a word about Wanta or the German arrest story or anything that would challenge this guy’s credibility. I wonder whether the late Tim Russert would have let him off so lightly?

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for