Republican economics in action: Take a bunch of money from the government in tax breaks and subsidies. Whine about government spending on "those people". Dump all the ill-gotten gains into the stock market. Destroy the financial system. Ask for more taxpayer money while decrying "socialism". Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
And where else but in Sarah Palin's Alaska to see this phenomenon in all its shining glory?
It turns out, you see, that the same state that takes in $1.87 in federal dollars for every dollar it gives back (just behind New Mexico as the 2nd biggest welfare state) and sent Sarah Palin to preach about the evils of "government spending" to her rabid base, also just lost $1 billion by changing their investment strategy to buy stocks right before the crash. And, just like the greedy bankers on Wall St., Sarah Palin is now asking for a bailout for her state.
A change last year in how a key state savings account is invested has yielded nothing but pain so far -- a loss of about $1 billion.
The reason is the stock market meltdown that began last fall.
Because Department of Revenue officials plowed a big chunk of the Constitutional Budget Reserve into stocks shortly before the meltdown started, the state suffered the same kind of stinging losses many Americans have experienced in their personal retirement portfolios.
Revenue officials, as well as state legislators who encouraged the stock investments in hopes of generating bigger profits, acknowledge their timing was dreadful.
But they're hoping the market rebounds in coming years and the bet pays off over the long haul.
Yeah....uhhhh, good luck with that whole stock market "bounce back" thing. Perhaps we should be asking Governor Palin if she agrees with Rush Limbaugh in hoping that Obama fails in his plans to stimulate the economy through government largess. Perhaps Alaska should should just pull itself up by its bootstraps, eh? Who knows: those Blue donor state Atlases just might "shrug" and leave the welfare-loving Red states to fend for themselves at a certain point.
But it gets better:
Over its history, the budget reserve has been plowed predominantly into relatively safe and stable investments such as bonds and Treasury bills. Such investments typically don't generate the same kind of big returns that stocks can, but they're not as risky and can be quickly sold to provide ready cash if needed.
During last year's legislative session, lawmakers had a huge stack of surplus dollars on hand because of a run of record-high oil prices, so they put more than $4 billion into the Constitutional Budget Reserve as savings.
Instead of parking the money in the reserve's conservative investment account, it was shifted to a subaccount that's invested more aggressively in stocks.
That subaccount had a market value of about $4.5 billion in the summer. But with the stock market crash, its value has plunged to $3.5 billion -- meaning a $1 billion loss, said Jerry Burnett, the state's deputy revenue commissioner.
So essentially, speculation-driven high gas prices, coupled with ridiculous welfare payments from the federal government due to corruption from the likes of "Tubes" Stevens, led Alaska to start living high off the hog. So the Gordon Gekkos in Alaska decided that they should be making even more money, and gambled the People's money on high-risk investments on Wall Street, in true Republican style. When gas prices fell due to a crackdown on oil speculation, and when the stock market collapsed, sending shocks through the financial world due to the overweening greed of the wizards of high finance, all that money just vanished.
And now, in a show of remarkable Agamemnonesque hubris, Pirate Palin is now seeking to retake her ill-gotten loot after loosing a financial plague on Alaska through incompetent greed by stealing it from the same blue states that earned it through the sweat of their citizens in the first place.
Homer put an unforgettable and terribly apropos phrase in the mouth of Achilles that will ring in eternity:
O thou, cloaked in shamelessness, mindful of nothing but profit!
But not only is there shameless greed here, there is remarkable cluelessness. Republicans never learn:
Burnett said officials had no reason last spring to expect the state would need to dip into the reserve anytime soon, and so investing in stocks made sense as they can deliver superior returns over a long period even though they can experience extreme swings up or down in any given year.
Despite last year's market collapse, state officials have no plans to change how the reserve is invested, Burnett said.
"Some years you're going to have a loss," he said. "You can even have a severe loss. But over time, you're going to do better than if you bought all Treasury bills and just held them forever."
State Sen. Kevin Meyer, an Anchorage Republican who last year co-chaired the House Finance Committee and helped write the state budget, agreed that he and other legislators advised Galvin to invest the reserve's new deposits more aggressively.
In years past, Meyer said, state officials have heard criticism for investing too conservatively as stocks soared.
He believes last year's investment shift can yet turn out rosy.
"I'm still not sure it was a bad decision," he said. "We've got some time, so hopefully the stock market will come back."
The learning curve for these people is nil. Not even total Armageddon would be enough to deter Republicans from their ideology of market worship. They will simply do the same things over and over again, expecting a different result and taking the country down Senator Stevens' tubes in the process.
Compromise with such people is not possible, any more than it was possible for Achilles to compromise with Agamemnon. All we can do is crush them in the court of public opinion and marginalize them as much as possible, while demanding justice for those who have been wronged.
Demanding equity for the blue states that provide tax dollars to the federal government to support incompetence like this would be a good place to start.