Lillian Smith wrote, “Faith and doubt are both needed – not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve.” Our leaders should heed these words right now for only one thing in this world right now is certain: No one knows what to do!

On Wednesday of this week President Obama’s stimulus package was being bashed by Republicans in Congress and we learned that 450 executives in the derivatives and credit default swap department at AIG were sharing $400 million dollars in “retention bonuses.” Perhaps the stimulus package should be bashed but I’m just not sure we should be listening to politicians who are sitting on their duffs while bankers and financiers loot the Treasury.

Funding the National Endowment for the Arts may seem ridiculous. Is it however, any less ludicrous than letting an investment bank continue to take taxpayer millions to renovate gaudy offices, buy corporate jets, or give bonuses to the guys who drove a company to insolvency? I’m not so sure.

No one knows how to fix the economic problems this nation, and this world, are facing, but our leaders are certainly willing to keep telling us they’re ideas are better than someone else’s. It’s disgraceful. Democrats can’t seem to get out of their own way right now, and Republicans are so scared they’ll look like Herbert Hoover they’re all flailing about like netted flounder. They should all just take a deep breath and think.

Bailing out banks hasn’t worked. The fact is that lending by the big banks that took TARP money actually decreased by almost 2% since the money was distributed. The average American is not seeing one benefit of the bailout program. Jobs continue to be lost, no one can get loans, and credit card companies are still gouging their customers.

So let’s quit doling out dollars to the money addicts on Wall Street. It’s time for some tough love. Let the banks fail. We can use our tax dollars much more wisely by lending it directly back to the small businesses that actually employ most of us. How? By using the Small Business Administration.  The SBA has been doing disaster lending for decades. Things appear pretty disastrous to me right now. The underwriting process the SBA uses, while arduous, is apparently much better than anything banks were using recently. The SBA has no incentive to hoard cash the way banks do, nor do they need to funnel money to whiny executives..

Small businesses employ 2/3 of the people in this country and banks aren’t providing the credit they need to survive, much less grow.  Let the SBA do it. I know, I know, we keep hearing that the Government shouldn’t be competing with the private sector.  This is nonsensical antiquated thinking. Maybe the private sector will figure out how to get back in the game once they realize the Government can make a nice 5% rate of return on loans made directly to small businesses instead of throwing cash down the rabbit hole of Corporate America.

Two realities must be confronted if we are to move forward economically. First, just because someone made money doesn’t necessarily mean they’re smart. Second, listening to someone just because they’re wealthy is foolish. No one out there can tell me with any certainty that circumventing the banks and lending our tax dollars directly to small businesses through the SBA won’t work. But I can most certainly tell you that giving money to the big banks and financiers is like asking your crack addict cousin to watch your house for the weekend.

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