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B. Jeffrey Madoff Headshot

A Government Takeover of the Government

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I made a New Year's resolution to try to look at things in a more positive way and now that the year is ending, I'd like to share some of the more positive aspects of 2009.

For the first time in United States history, a black man, well, half black, but that's essentially all black to many of us, became our president. Racism was finally over! The good news was celebrated around the country as gun and ammunition sales skyrocketed. Obama began having a positive effect on the economy before he was even elected as gun sales began to explode at the end of 2008, once he was elected, sales shot to record heights. "Gun salesman of the Year" is how some gun sellers referred to Obama in an overt message of gratitude for the economic stimulus he provided their embattled industry.

We all know that General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were in big trouble. Ford decided to not take the funds. GM and Chrysler needed not only the free market system, but a government bailout to help them weather the tough times. The government insisted on firm rules, regulations and a solid business plan to justify the funds. As GM emerged from bankruptcy, their CEO, Fred Henderson, a 25-year GM veteran, planned a nationwide tour to reconnect with dealers and consumers. I salute the ingenuity of GM and Chrysler: after ignoring the consumers for so many years, their biggest job isn't selling cars, but convincing people that they're still in business so they can resume selling cars. Our family supports those efforts; my wife just bought a Chevrolet which she turned into a beautiful planter.

Economic concerns actually had a positive effect on our citizens. This is the first time in almost eighty years that we've had such a large, qualified workforce available. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, has modestly admitted that "We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It's a virtuous cycle." He continues by saying he is "Doing God's work." By extension, that means that Goldman Sachs is doing "God's work," but since it was government funds that enabled Goldman to continue working, it's actually the government who did "God's work." Is God a socialist?

In the true spirit of the holidays Blankfein said, "I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer."

Cries of socialism echoed throughout the land this past year; rather than a government takeover of the banks, the banks seem to have taken over the government. The closest we have come to socialism is the socialization of risk, which we the taxpayers undertook to give Goldman, Bank of America, Citibank and JP Morgan access to cheap money -- our money. I tried to understand why all the credit card fees and loan charges have gone up since the banks didn't pay interest on the money they got, and they got it from us, why are we charging ourselves more? I guess we are all willing to sacrifice for the greater good of those who accumulate the greatest wealth.

I believe in spreading the love. We're never too busy to do that, just look at Nevada Senator John Ensign, presidential candidate John Edwards, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and of course, Tiger Woods. These are all very busy men, but they found the time to spread their love, despite their busy schedules, to many others. That is the true spirit of the holidays.

We are a nation that celebrates our differences. Like the tea baggers, birthers, gun toters and others who got together to show how different they could be. Nobody was going to force universal health care down our throats, even if the majority wanted it. Our President has prevailed on getting a bill through the Congress and the Senate that is substantially less ambitious than initially proposed, but better than nothing.

As we had our holiday dinner together, my kids asked me why billions can be spent on an expanding war with no end in sight, bailing out the auto industry and the banks, but when it comes to health care, people are afraid of a "government takeover."

For the New Year, I hope for a government takeover of the government.