Plan “B”

Markets are looking ugly around the globe. Investors are voting on the bailout plan with their feet. The crisis is now accelerating.

This is a speech I’d like to hear either one of the candidates give. The man who expresses these views (or something close to it) gets my vote:

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My fellow countrymen:

These are indeed extraordinary times. The country is in an economic crisis, housing has been in freefall, we are clearly in a recession, and now credit freeze is  worsening. We are living through what future historians will call The Great Financial Crisis of 2008.

Times such as these call for extraordinary leadership. Unfortunately, such leadership has been in precious short supply in Washington D.C. Our government has been reacting to events, rather than pro-acting. Its been all crisis management — putting out fires rather than preventing them. We have been on our heels, playing defense. That is not leadership; that is not considering possible events, and planning accordingly.

It is time for this leadership vacuum to be filled.

We have made some positive steps: A $700 billion-dollar bailout plan was passed by Congress last week, and while flawed, it is a first step. It is the biggest bailout bill in America’s history. But now is not the time to sit back and wait for results. We need to consider the next steps that must take place as a follow-on to this rescue plan, as well as contingency plan in case things do not go as we hope. Pray for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

We need a “Plan B.”

I propose the following: As of this morning, I have sent invitations to our nation’s brightest financial and economic thinkers. It doesn’t matter if they are in academia, or the private sector, or in government. It matters not to me if they are a Democrat or a Republican or Independent. Your country needs you, and I hope you will answer the call.

It is time for us to get on the offense.

What is needed now is for the intellectual capital in this country to be put to good use. We have many of the world’s finest universities, we have unparalleled genius amongst our populace. Rather than merely rely on a hastily crafted on-the-fly  plan, improvised in response to the eruption of crisis, its time we used our brains. We need to be both optimistic, and at the same time, we must always have a contingency plan. A great nation such as ours deserves at least that much.

What we need is our generation’s economic equivalent of the Manhattan project. That’s what helped the United States and her allies develop the A-bomb and to win WWII.

For the past 8 years, we have ignored our greatest strengths. We have disdained reason and science. We have lived in an imaginary fairytale land, where home prices never went down, where inflation and unemployment were low, and economic growth was strong.

That turned out to be a phantom dream, based upon an illusion.

We now know that much of the growth of the past few years was based on these faulty premises: That we could borrow our way to a better lifestyle, that our financial institutions could speculate their way to profits, that we could deficit spend our way to prosperity. My friends, that is not how you achieve economic greatness. We need to strengthen the economic engine of the United States in every way we can. To do that, the president of the United States needs to take counsel from the wisest men and women in the land.

I invite my opponent to participate in this, to sit side by side with me, and receive counsel from these experts together with me. Whichever one of us win this election next month, he will need to hit the ground running. This crisis is bigger than the election, it’s more important than either one of us. It’s of great significance to the country, indeed, to the world. (Far greater importance than you would have guessed from the response from the present White House).

In the absence of leadership from the White House, it is incumbent upon the two men seeking that office to show the economic leadership that has been missing.

We are challenged to rise to this occasion. When presented with great challenges, America has always responded with greatness of our own — and this is one of those times. We are being tested, and we must succeed — not with just a barely passing grade, but with flying colors and honors appropriate for a great nation.

Given the extent of the financial crisis, and the extraordinary amount of resources that we must bring to bear upon this, in order to prevent this recession from spiraling into something far, far worse, we must leave no stone unturned, no idea unexplored, no action unconsidered.

As a nation, we have weathered terrible crises before: The Depression in 1929, World War 2, Recessions and economic disruption, the attacks of 9/11. The United States has been tested, many times in her past, and has always risen to the occasion every time. The Great Financial Crisis of 2008 is merely another one of those tests that allows the country to demonstrate what its people are capable of — what we are made of — what makes us Americans.

This will not be easy. Sacrifices will have to be made. For a period of time, we must put aside our our own self-interest and work together as one nation. There is no room for partisanship. There is no time like the present to embrace our future. And there is no country like the United States of America.

God bless you, and God bless America.


Originally published at The Big Picture and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

One Response to "Plan “B”"

  1. Michael Khor   October 6, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Excellent proposition!!!. I strongly agree with your analysis and the following are undeniable.1) Whitehouse Leadership in handling this crisis is sadly and visibly missing. Any head of government would have been directly involved in a financial crisis of this magnitude. Is it because of hubris or over confidence because the US is the greatest country in the world?2) Most policy makers have been on constant denial until recently. So far the policy actions have been biased towards financial industry.3) The US has been over dependent on financial industry as a source of wealth creation. It is time to put our capital in productive use by investing in industries that will lead America to the road of recovery and reclaim our glory which has been eroded in recent years.4) In general, Americans have over-leveraged and borrow ahead of their future earnings to pursue better/lavish lifestyles that are unsustainable. Worse of all, the consumer spending has been the main engine of GDP growth. It is only rational to recondition the mentality of the Americans to live within their means.5) Most of all and without doubt that the US has not utilize much of its intellectual capacity and resources to resolve this financial crisis. It is extremely astonishingly that a country like us, which have so many financial experts to help other countries to resolve financial crises around the world, has not sought the expertise of our people.It is never too late to gather the proposals of all the great minds of American financial and economics experts and people who are will to volunteers to come up with a better plans and policies not only to overcome this crisis but also to develop a better sustainable financial architecture for the world.