And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? -- William Butler Yeats
I doodled this long ago in another connection, but it seems apt: Tonight the Rough Beast Called
Clearly something needs to be done. A host of responsible voices have suggested solutions that would better protect the taxpayer and be more likely to work, mostly variants of the "Swedish model" of the government taking an equity stake in the banks it helps, instead of reflexively throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at them. I'm proud that one of my senators, Russ Feingold was one of 25 senators who voted against the highly flawed Senate bill.
The original Paulson giveaway was only 3 pages long. After a weekend of negotiation, it grew to 42 pages. After the House toyed with it and then ultimately rejected it, the bill was 102 pages long. But the Rough Beast was still a mere infant. What the Senate rushed to cobble together in the last couple days added up to 451 pages. How many Senators even had time to read it? How many actually know what they voted for (remember, the Devil is in the details)?
451 is an interesting number. As Ray Bradbury reminded us, Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper catches fire. I say burn all 451 pages, before they do more harm. Or, second best, I hope the House follows Feingold's lead and votes it down. Then we can get serious.