Political Power for Real People
September 23, 2008
This is commentary and links to blog postings from the Chairman of You2Gov, Ralph J. Shapira. He is a partner at O’Melveny and Meyers Law Firm and has handled complex business litigation for decades.
I’m writing about the Great Wall Street Bailout of 2008. Here’s a blog I just posted on www.You2Gov.com, a website I started 4 months ago:
“PAULSON’S NET WORTH = $500 MILLION!!!
“That astounding fact, tucked in today’s Wall Street Journal near the end of a long piece on the bailout, speaks volumes about how unfair the bailout would be. The principals of the Wall Street firms to whom Paulson demands we give $700 billion in taxpayer funds have reaped colossal riches in the past decades when business was good. Are they offering to kick in anything to help their firms through the current hard times? Of course not — they plan to keep all their ungodly wealth while financially struggling Joe Taxpayer is asked to bail out the firms that have done little to help him in the past. To the contrary — hefty parts of their wealth have come from financing the buying and “downsizing” of U.S. corporations and shipping U.S. jobs overseas, squeezing millions of JT’s out of the modest houses they’ve scrimped a lifetime to buy.
“Paulson’s wealth is not untypical for his crowd. Indeed, there are scores of hedge fund and private equity magnates whose fortunes make Paulson’s look like chump change. A few thousand of these financial titans could pool their resources and do this rescue themselves. Only they really, really don’t want to, because it’s such a lousy deal they wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole or fly near it on their golden parachutes.
“Let’s not dupe the U.S. taxpayers and their children, who will be taxed for generations to pay the National Debt this plan would so substantially augment, into giving their financial lifeblood to “save” these financial companies. If the taxpayers say a resounding “no,” these guys will find a way to save the system that has been so overwhelmingly good to them, and will be back to earning their hundreds of millions again — much of it taxed at lower rates than we pay — in no time flat.” http://www.you2gov.com/index.php/Blog/Default-Category/PAULSON-S-PERSONAL-NET-WORTH-=-$500-MILLION.html
My more measured views are in 2 earlier blogs, http://www.you2gov.com/index.php/Blog/Default-Category/TAXPAYER-CASH-FOR-WALL-STREET-S-TRASH.html and http://www.you2gov.com/index.php/Blog/Default-Category/We-must-plan-to-pay-for-the-Wall-Street-Bailout.html)
The proposed bailout is one of the most expensive, extraordinary and far-reaching government initiatives of our lifetimes. Whether you agree with my views or not, I’m urging everyone I know to call or write their Senators and House Representative as soon as possible to let them know how you feel: this thing or some variant could be enacted within days, and we’ll be living with its consequences, foreseen and unforeseen, for decades. Constituent communications can be very influential on our Congressional representatives.
One of the purposes of You2Gov, a non-partisan politically-oriented social networking site, is to facilitate citizen communications with elected officials. The site has free tools to make writing or calling your Congressional Reps easy, by providing the website each official uses to receive constituent emails and the Representatives’ telephone and fax numbers. Just click the menu item “Take Action” and then “Write Your Rep” and “Write Your Senator”. Your letters can be as simple as “Dear ____: As your constituent, I urge you to vote ["no" or "yes"] on the Paulson Wall Street bailout;” or it can be as lengthy and explanatory as you have time to write.
You have to register to use You2Gov’s communications tools (but not to read its extensive content), but registration takes less than a minute, is free, does not require invasive personal information, will not subject you to unwanted emails, spam or commercial appeals, and your information will never be sold to 3rd parties. And perhaps you may find yourself visiting again: the site was recently named by PC Magazine one of the 20 Best Political Sites on the Web, the only social networking site so honored.
If you send me copies of any emails or letters you send or fax to Congress, I will post them on the site (without your identifying information) as exemplars for others’ use.
Two final notes. First, please consider forwarding this email to any or all of your friends who might wish to express their views before the train leaves the station. Second, I would love to hear your views on the issue if you’re willing to share them, either directly with me or on You2Gov’s discussion forum.
I hope this finds you well. Please accept my best regards and my appreciation for allowing me to impose this very long email on you.
Ralph J. Shapira