- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 18, 2008

The following are excerpts from editorials that ran this week in other newspapers:

Los Angeles Times, on the government investing in U.S. banks as part of an economic rescue package: Washington’s financial-rescue-of-the-day frenzy continued this week with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. announcing that the government would invest at least $250 billion directly in U.S. banks. … The new approach is a much more direct and efficient way to provide more cash for banks to lend. In theory, that should ease the credit crunch that has been so damaging to the economy. Still, the plan seems to have been thrown together just as hastily as previous efforts, leaving gaping loopholes. There are no safeguards against banks frittering away the cash provided by the Treasury to pay dividends to shareholders (including, in many cases, their own executives). The government is rushing to make the investments before it knows the true health of these institutions, meaning it may be throwing good money after bad and encouraging desperate executives to make unacceptably risky bets. And by acquiring nonvoting shares, the Treasury limits its influence over how taxpayer dollars are put to use. …

On the Net:


Journal Star, Peoria, Ill., on the national debt: America’s national debt surpassed $10 trillion on the last day of September. … The national debt clock, located near New York’s Times Square, actually ran out of digits.

Seymour Durst, a Manhattan real estate developer, erected the sign in 1989 to focus eyeballs on what was then a $2.7 trillion debt. In 2008 dollars, 1989’s red ink would come to $4.8 trillion. So yes, you could say the overspending has picked up a bit. … If you’re curious what that number means to you, the debt amounts to nearly $33,000 per capita, more than $86,000 per family in America. Just add it to the mortgage. If that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep, add in unfunded Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement spending, and the total debt exceeds $59 trillion.

Of course, we’re told that deficits don’t matter, that as a percentage of gross domestic product – the size of our economy – the debt is still manageable. Perhaps so, but it’s getting less so by the minute – by more than $1 million in red ink a minute, in fact. Gross national debt as a percentage of GDP just hit a 53-year high.

Nonetheless, the government spending continues, we dare say with reckless abandon. …

On the Net:


The Denver Post, on covering the cost of wildfires: … Here’s a news flash: Another hot and dry summer out West meant large forest fires. Why should that come as a surprise to those holding the purse strings at the Forest Service?

Climate change’s longer and drier summers, the mass pine-beetle destruction and the season’s frequent lightning strikes construct a familiar equation by now. We hope Congress will start factoring it in by seriously considering legislation that was dropped this year that would have created a separate fund for fire suppression.

By the end of August, the cost of fighting fires forced the Forest Service to redirect $700 million from traditional programs like maintaining roads and trails and creating other recreational improvements to cover a $1.9 billion firefighting tab. Some campgrounds were closed. …

Yes, we are facing wildfires of a different sort right now. Wall Street’s federal deficit clock has run out of numbers, we’re mired in two wars and our leadership has become understandably consumed by the credit crisis and its lightning-fast spread to local and global economies alike.

But failing to protect our national forests when we know the fires will come isn’t cost-effective. Spending the money it takes up front to responsibly manage forests makes far greater sense. …

On the Net:


The Trentonian, Trenton, N.J., on global economic concerns: The Germans have a word for it. Schadenfreude. It means taking glee in the misfortune of others. It spread across Europe with the news of America’s financial meltdown and rescue scramble.

A smirking Europe enjoyed the comeuppance for America’s “speculative excess” and “cowboy capitalism.”

Until, that is, the fiscal fecal matter hit the European fan.

Germany found itself scrambling to bail out a big bank, England to rescue a large real estate lender. Other nations across Europe found themselves hustling to come up with various bailout/rescue measures of their own.

And it seems the European countries’ difficulties are largely of their own making.

Turnabout may be fair play, but we should cut short our own schadenfreude. The reality is that America needs European markets to stabilize, for our own economic well-being as well as Europe’s.

Problem is that stabilization there may be even harder to achieve than here, thanks to a fragmented European regulatory structure. For better or worse - in this case, worse - Europe has nothing like our Fed.

Europeans may find our cowboy capitalism a bit too boisterous for their tastes. But they may yet come to envy the sweep and swiftness of the response we American yahoos were able to muster in the crisis.

On the Net:


Jerusalem Post, on recent violence: While most Israeli Jews spent Yom Kippur in prayer, contemplation or communing with their bicycles, a troublesome minority exploited the Day of Atonement to sin against public order. …

In Kiryat Motzkin, Haifa, Beersheba, Holon, Rehovot and Jerusalem, loutish Jewish youths - overwhelmingly not haredi - stoned MDA ambulances in displays of juvenile delinquency that have become all too common in recent years.

Violence of a different order broke out in the northern town of Acre, where the population of 50,000 is about one-third Arab. Here, at about 11:30 p.m., Jewish youths hanging out on Yom Kippur took umbrage when Tawfik Jamal, an Arab resident of Acre’s Old City, drove his car along Avraham Ben Shoshan Street in the Jewish part of town. Some of the youths claimed they feared he was about to carry out a vehicular terrorist attack - similar to those recently committed in Jerusalem. …

What is essential now is that the violence, which has continued to flare intermittently over the weekend, not spread to other areas where Jews and Arabs live in close proximity. Constructively, over Shabbat, moderate Arab leaders publicly criticized Jamal for his insensitivity. Still, all eyes remain on Acre, where tensions have long been simmering between the mostly working-class populations, with the Arabs insisting that they’re not getting a fair share of municipal services. …

A correct Zionist response is to insist that Arab and Jewish citizens live by the same rules and obligations. Anyone who advocates vigilantism undermines the Jewish state and should be shunned.

On the Net:


Postimees, Tallinn, Estonia, on the European financial crisis: There’s a bar in Oxford where visitors are fined one pound for speaking on their mobile phones or using the phrase “the European Union.” The bar’s a kind of incarnation of “good old England” that looks upon European directives as it did the Luftwaffe in 1940.

All the more surprising, therefore, the bulletin about how Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a far greater Euro-skeptic than his predecessor Tony Blair, appealed to his EU colleagues with a proposal to devise a common European rescue plan for the financial crisis. Not long ago Brown was against such a plan.

What happened? Apparently, the worsening financial crisis turned out to be so grave that it forced London to turn to Europe. … By all accounts, we’re seeing a sea-change in London’s attitude toward the EU.

But it’s hard to believe that foggy Albion will suddenly embrace Brussels. … Still, the EU needs a common approach to the financial crisis. If EU member states and their members start to collapse like a house of cards, this will lead to a situation like the one in the 1930s.

One can be an optimist and assume that Great Britain‘s proposal will find support in Brussels and the tension between London and Brussels will finally abate.

On the Net:


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