The Us Investing in US Economic Rebirth Plan
By Lowell Klessig
The financial markets are screaming that the $700,000,000,000 bailout is not enough. A rescue was needed but we should not be throwing more money at the very institutions and CEOs that have proven to be greedy and incompetent..
With the bailout, each citizen (man, woman, and child) has assumed $2000 of the bad debts of the banks that have fostered, nurtured, and proudly displayed the greed of their CEOs. In additional to being greedy, they had no idea what risks they were taking with other people's money. And most salient of all, they didn't care. After all, they had not had a party like this since the 1920s.
CEOs in other countries are not like American CEOs. While American CEOs have been earning about 400 times as much as the average wage of their employees, the ratio in other countries is much less. About 60 in Brazil and Mexico. Less than 30 in Canada, France, Germany and South Korea. And only 11 in Japan.
For a specific example, the CEO of Exxon-Mobil made $69.7 million in 2005 (and much more since then). The CEOs of major European oil companies British Petroleum (BP) and Dutch Royal Shell made less than 10% of their American counterpart. This extreme greed is uniquely American--it's a cultural thing. American brand individual freedom and raw capitalism have carried us to the edge of an economic abyss. Only a concerted effort of the entire nation can bring us back from the edge.
Consider an entirely different "rescue" paradigm - a paradigm based not on corporate socialism but on economic decisions by 350 million American citizens. With the bailout, every citizen gave Wall Street $2000. Instead, what if the government had given us (US citizens) that money? What if we could have invested it ourselves? What if each citizen was given a voucher for $2000 that they could use in one of four ways:
1) Pay down the mortgage-now.
2) Buy a $1000 24-month CD and a $1000 48-month CD from a FDIC-insured bank with no early withdrawal option.
3) Invest in the education of their children or grandchildren through one of the many 529 college savings plans that provide tax free earnings when used to pay tuition.
4) Invest in a mutual fund that holds at least 20 stocks or bonds within a fund family that offers flexible investment options but is structured to allow no more than a 20% withdrawal per calendar year.
The $2000 for minors (under 18) would automatically be invested in a 529 educational account. If the funds had not been used by the time the minor reached age 22, they could be withdrawn at that time.
The Us Investing in U.S. Economic Rebirth Plan would immediately help those people behind on their mortgage payments..
The Us Investing in U.S. Economic Rebirth Plan would re-capitalize our banks when the new CDs are purchased. Re-capitalization would also occur as some investors in the education funds and mutual funds chose short term and fixed income investment funds.
The Us Investing in U.S. Economic Rebirth Plan would give tens of millions of young Americans a better shot at a university or technical college education.
The Us Investing in U.S. Economic Rebirth Plan would revive the stock market as old and new investors regain confidence from the actions of millions of other Americans making five year commitments to equity investing.
Most importantly, the Us Investing in U.S. Economic Rebirth Plan would treat everyone equally. It would give every American an equal chance to contribute and benefit from an economic recovery.
God forbid we need another huge rescue plan. But if we do, the Us Investing in U.S Economic Rebirth Plan would provide both efficiency and equity.
The next President and the new Congress need to think outside of the reeking box filled with the litter of greed at any price. Perhaps they will to let us invest in ourselves.
Lowell Klessig is Emeritus Professor of Integrated Resource Management, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has traveled to 48 countries and taught in eight. When he isn't traveling, he writes and raises beef cattle in central Wisconsin.
Lowell Klessig is Emeritus Professor of Integrated Resource Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. In addition to articles in professional journals, he has authored numerous Extension publications in non-technical terms for adult audiences. He served as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Rural Leadership Program. He has travelled to 48 countries and taught in eight foreign countries. He writes a monthly column for a Midwestern weekly newspaper and does occasional magazine features. (A one page bio summary is available electronically upon request.)
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