Friday, January 25, 2008

Shabbat Ideas - January 25, 2008

The Press is abuzz with The Jewish Americans; it is Friday so here are my Shabbat Thoughts for January 25, 2008:
Religion and Economics? And it isn’t even the Republican Debates
Hassid Heist
Leave him alone…Obama isn’t a Muslim and so what if he was
Actually Useful Jewish News on the Presidential Hopefuls
Egypt doesn’t want Gaza either…

The economy is in Shirutim and shockingly attention is shifting away from the wars overseas to the financial crisis in the United States. Ron Paul, presidential candidate and noted anti-Semite, said in the debate last night that no war has even been fought without an adverse consequence to the aggressors’ currency. We currently see that around the world.

But the thing I believe Paul is missing, besides his mind, is that in seven years we have taken the strongest economy in decades and destroyed it. Under Ron Paul’s idea of the Federal government tax cuts could work. However with everyone else running for president, tax cuts will only limit the budget of the government and lead to inflationary spending. It is naive to expect that with less money in the coffers of the government, the government will actually work.

I tend to quote the West Wing from time to time. There was one episode where Toby was quoted saying something to this effect: “Government is supposed to be a place where its citizens can get what they need. It should be a place where everyone comes together and makes the world better...” While that is not exactly the quote, you get the point. This idea of cutting taxes, giving the American people $600 a person, saying “go buy some stuff” and expecting the economy to recover is just pain dumb. Even the tax breaks for corporations is way too little way too late.

The economic situation we have today is due to a number of issues. Chief among them is the Predatory Lending scams of the past five years. With the relaxation of the regulations, we have seen a HUGE increase in number of high-risk low-cost sub-prime loans. I have said this for months and months. Jspot has been saying it for months and months. Even rightwing market people have been saying it for a few months now. What I really don’t understand is why, even as the “market decides” how to fix it, the government is not acting quickly about the sub-prime lending market?

Sure they are doing something, discussing a few bills here and there, but nothing substantial. The fact is the economy will not be jumpstarted by a lack lust tax relief check. The economic situation will be restored by a strong market lead by a rebounding housing market. The interest rates are lower than they have been in nearly 10 years. The market is full of foreclosed homes. The supply is high and there is cheap money to be had.

However, because of the crash of sub-prime, millions of people are without any capital to invest in real-estate. I believe we will see a raise of a new upper class because of this crisis. We will see young well off business types buy up lots of real-estate, flip it and make a ton of money. We will see fewer and fewer people living the American Dream. We will see more and more rich, young people living in “newly restored” communities.

However, if we act to preserve our ways of life, insure the American Dream doesn’t have to come with a no limit American Express, work to include all people in our dream we won’t lose it. This week we get the Ten Commandments. We learn that we shall not covet our neighbors property; we must take action not only to act well towards but to think well of our community members. This is extremely difficult, but no one said it would be easy.

Shabbat Shalom

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