A con game as “an attempt to defraud a person or people which involves gaining his or her confidence,” Wikipedia explains.
The Great Bailout of 08 is con game with a very special twist.
Wall Street speculators sold trillions of dollars of securities whose worth nobody really understood to supposedly sophisticated investors here and abroad. Cons work, as Wikipedia points out, because “persons of any level of intelligence are vulnerable to deception by experienced con artists.” Mortgages were packaged into securities that in turn were sliced into other securities, repackaged and sliced again, ad nauseum. A vast portion of our economy was a house of cards. Some of the con artists conned themselves and each other with these schemes.
Here’s the twist: once they got caught on the con, the grifters and the Bush Administration got together and demanded that taxpayers pay $700 billion to restore Wall Street’s confidence. The reason why no one has been able to explain the price tag is that Treasury Secretary Paulson figured that requiring Americans to buy so much bad debt would convince Wall Street to go back to work and start lending again. Remember, the crisis is a credit crunch – banks and other financial institutions refusing to lend money to each other or anybody, because of the original con. Not surprisingly, the con artists don’t trust each other anymore.
So today, Congress hopes to end the con with our money.