Torn between principle and pragmatism

Nothing generates stronger emotions than proposing a $700 billion rescue of Wall Street to keep the U.S. economy from self-destructing.

It’s a little like watching drunk and self-important dolts playing with matches and dynamite. When the fuse suddenly ignites, it’s tempting to sit back and wait for a satisfying bang. Except when you realize you’re sharing an elevator with them.

Those posting comments on our Web site seem torn too.

Many object on principle to rescue efforts aimed at saving Wall Street. Others are more concerned about the financial crisis’ potential effect on Main Street.

In all, it is a stimulating mix of angst and philosophy.

"No welfare for Wall Street," declares Mike.

But Monday’s narrow 228-205 rejection of a bailout plan was democracy working as designed, says COO@Tier1.

Because voter sentiment was about 30-1 against the bill, the House was right to reject the bill until Congress can modify it to satisfy more people and politicians do a better job of explaining why, he argues. It’s "time we invest in hard assets and benefit the tax payers and country simultaneously."

However, Q says the House rejection was more about avoiding a controversial bill so close to reelection. “In an attempt to save their own jobs, they will sacrifice the jobs of thousands of less affluent Americans,” he concludes.

212751 disagrees with Publisher Keith Crain’s column that “Bailouts are a bad idea.” He argues the rejected House plan would benefit all Americans and specifically the auto industry. “Without a credit line the industry will shrink and take a long time to recover.”

Other writers are even blunter.

“The credit crunch is THE reason that the not-so-big three are in such dire straits,” says one.

“Talk to any dealer in the U.S. and the problem is getting customers financed so they can buy cars,” Craig says. “Like them or not, Wall Street is the fuel that keeps our industry going.”

And finally, one writer warns that if Crain is wrong and the whole economy goes sour, “we’ll all be broke in no time. We’ll be RIGHT, but we’ll be broke! How much sense does that make?”

That’s a good question. Should we hold our collective noses and go for the bailout? Or is there a better approach?

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