We all had time to digest Henry Paulson’s comment that subprime woes are contained. The problem spread to Alt-A mortgages, and as Germany will confirm, the problem spread around the world. I’m almost 60 years old, and was lied to about Agent Orange, Gulf War Syndrome, Watergate, second mortgages, Iraq, and a few more. What makes anyone think the average person on the street gets the truth?
We were lied to by corporate CEO’s, thus Sarbane-Oxley came into being. Household International’s CEO William F. Aldinger lied to employees and investors, saying ‘We are not a predatory lender’ – only to pay the largest nationwide predatory lending settlement of $484 million (USD) shortly thereafter. American’s were legally duped into binding arbitration clauses while companies thought they were untouchable. The list goes on and on.
Leadership, credibility and accountability are driven from the top down. Years ago when a government official was responsible for a debacle, scandal, or anything that embarrassed the president, that offical accepted responsibility and resigned. The problem may have been far down the chain of command, and far removed from his or her office, but that official took responsibility.
Today, as mortgage problems form, we look for answers. Based on what I see – our own Attorney General is tap dancing, Clinton and Edwards’ bailout idea pinned to winning some votes, Rumsfeld’s past refusal to resign – we may not get straight answers. With a huge slap in the face please note that injured Iraq war veterans had to file a class action suit on July 24, 2007 to get health care from the VA.
This is the same “leadership” that lied to us about agent orange, failed to see or stop the Savings and Loan crisis, failed to regulate predatory lending in the 90’s, gave us bankruptcy reform, postal service reform, $4 gasoline, $4.50 milk, and manipulated the American consumer into a position where if you don’t get a statement in the mail it is automatically your fault if something gets paid late as a result.
Even if we got a straight honest answer to the mortgage crisis we might not recognize it as such. I do not know Henry Paulson. On the street, however, I hear people calling him Pat Paulson and wondering if Alberto’s puppet master is pulling someone else’s strings.
(footnote: The VA lawsuit also accuses the VA of deliberately cheating some veterans by allegedly working with the Pentagon to misclassify PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders to avoid paying benefits. The VA and Pentagon have generally denied such charges.)