Every once in a while (and it's not often -- IIRC, the last time I got this annoyed, it was the TSA regulation about no liquids), I write a letter myself and send it to my elected officials. Should you want to do that, here's where you can find the web-forms they like to receive letters through:
I've been reading a bit about the $700 billion bailout package put together by Hank and Ben. I am Not Impressed. Yeah, sure, I said helping out Bear Stearns was necessary. And when rumors of this sucker jacked the market back up, I was as happy as the next member of the Ownership Society (maybe quite a lot more than most). But I'd rather go broke than have this thing go through As Proposed. And here's why. Once upon a time, something really tragic happened in NYC. And after that, it was suggested that we give Our Awful Leader a whole lot of power to go bomb brown people (because, after all, that's what We Do when bad things happen to us), with the understanding that he probably wouldn't actually _use_ that power. Well, he did. And it was a really bad idea. And he coerced that power out of some perhaps overly-trusting lawmakers who had had the bejeepers scared out of them by that tragic day in NYC, plus upcoming elections, plus some briefings that the rest of us only learned about later and which were full of lies.
Well, I'm not at all sure we're looking at something all that different. A whole lot of power being handed over that doesn't obviously address the real problem, being sold with a huge dollop of fear mongering. You know, if this was going to drop a thousand dollars or so into the pocket of every person living in this country, I might decide it was okay -- I'm pretty Keynesian most days. But it's not. It's going to _take_ a couple thousand dollars (at least) from every man, woman, child and other in this country, and use it to buy a bunch of stuff no one understands, no one regulates and that is widely believed to be absolutely worthless (possibly to have negative worth). This does not solve any problem, altho it might well keep things creaking along a few more weeks or months. And then, we will have the same problem we started with -- plus a Whole Lot More Debt and that many fewer people willing to buy our debt. I'm not sure who benefits from this plan, but I suspect they all have (or at least recently _had_) so much money they fall firmly in the category of people I'd like to raise taxes on -- not give everyone else's money to.
Here's the letter I sent to my rep and Senators. I don't much care for my Senators (and I dearly hope one of them is replaced this cycle). I do like my rep. You may live elsewhere so YMMV. But I kept it pretty respectful. Feel free to use this as inspiration to do further research, contact your representatives and generally get the word out. This is Bad JuJu.
While I understand that the details of the Paulson/Bernanke $700 billion bailout package are still being worked on and things are changing quickly, I am deeply concerned about what information is currently available. While I was not happy about the Bear Stearns arrangement, I strongly argued that it was necessary; I agree that probably the AIG bailout was also necessary. Keeping our markets functioning is crucial.
But what I see so far is an overly-simple proposal to give huge new powers to the Treasury to throw an enormous amount of taxpayer money at a lot of difficult to understand and (currently) impossible to assess-the-value-of assets. I'm afraid we'll throw all this money away and _still_ be faced with the same problem: inadequately capitalized banking institutions, a lack of transparency, mortgages that desperately _need_ to be modified if there's any hope of saving them at all but which can't be modified because they are securitized in a way that hamstrings the ability to modify them.
In short, I see a lot of taxpayers paying a lot of money to little or no benefit. And I see us all being terrorized _by our government_ to sign off on this as The Only Possible Solution.
Unless significant protections are built into this (something like the warrants that AIG had to give for their bailout, say) and significant benefits are made available to ordinary people (and not just executives and fund managers who screwed up big time), Please Say No to this plan. We are in a crisis. But a crisis is a time to _think_, not just to react. It should go without saying that we have _got_ to find a way to make credit default swaps and mortgage backed securities a lot more transparent, and, along with that transparency, better regulated.