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US House Limits Constituent Emails 581

Posted by kdawson
from the just-the-fax-ma'am dept.
Plechazunga passes along this note from The Hill: "The House is limiting e-mails from the public to prevent its websites from crashing due to the enormous amount of mail being submitted on the financial bailout bill. As a result, some constituents may get a 'try back at a later time' response if they use the House website to e-mail their lawmakers about the bill defeated in the House on Monday in a 205-228 vote."
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US House Limits Constituent Emails

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  • by mfh (56) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:50PM (#25209573) Homepage Journal

    Dear Constituent,

    We know you are a human being, or at least you believe that matters to us, but sadly, our mailboxes are too small and cannot possibly handle the number of emails you people wish to send. We lose them anyway and we never read them so why bother. Also, when we built the mailboxes, we only anticipated hearing from 0.001% of our constituents, not this whopping 1.02% contact ratio we're experiencing!

    We have assessed the situation and believe that you fall under one of the following categories:

    1. You are whining about something that we did to hurt your feelings.
    2. You want us to do something.
    3. You have a complaint.

    Here are some generic responses to help you cope:

    Category #1: (You are whining about something that hurt your feelings.)
    Sorry. Vote for me in 2008!

    Category #2: (You want us to do something.)
    We are already doing everything we can. KTHXBYE. Vote for me in 2008!

    Category #3: (You have a complaint.)
    GTFO. Canada is that way -------> Vote for me in 2008!

    Therefore, while we will gladly take your taxes from you, we have some bad news. We can't hear you. La la la la la la la la what? can't hear you! la la la la la...

    No no... that's all you have to say.

    Besides, we'll do whatever we want to anyway.

    Vote for me in 2008!

    Kind Regards,
    Your Douchebag Government

    • by ucblockhead (63650) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:12PM (#25209937) Homepage Journal

      I once sent my senator a letter that said, paraphrased:

      Dear Senator, I am very upset that you are considering $Foo. Please reconsider this position because of $bar.

      I got a response that said, paraphrased:

      Dear Constituent, Thank you for your letter. I thank you for your support in this time of troubles in which we must definitely do $Foo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bryansix (761547)
        Was it from Diane Feinstein? She is notorious for doing that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ucblockhead (63650)

          Hah! Yes, it was! It was when I wrote to tell her how boneheaded the Patriot Act was!

          At least Boxer was good enough to respond with "I am sorry you disagree, but here's why I support it".

          • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @08:03PM (#25212599)

            I sent Feinstein and Boxer letters a few years ago about copyright litigation. I got an email from Boxer's office that said "Thanks for your interest!." I got a personal, well reasoned response from Feinstein. She and I have written back and forth once a month ever since, sometimes with her emailing just to ask what I think about related legislation. For all I know it could be one of her staffers, but every email shows a lot of thought and is signed with her name.

      • by Nimey (114278)

        so does Kit Bond when he bothers to respond to me. Claire McCaskill has only done that to me once IIRC, but it was on the FISA bill, so she can drown in diarrhea.

    • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:19PM (#25210041) Homepage Journal

      GTFO. Canada is that way ------->

      Dude, you must be lost - that's the way to Mexico.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joggle (594025)

      That's a bit of an exaggeration. My congressman was saying on Meet the Press last Sunday that he was getting flooded with calls to his office by his constituents and that they fell into two categories (talking about the bailout plan):

      "No"
      and
      "Hell no"

      To be fair, he did vote against it. Personally I think that's the wrong vote to make since something drastic needs to be done. But he can truthfully claim that he was doing what the people he represents want.

      • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:46PM (#25210509) Homepage Journal

        To be fair, he did vote against it. Personally I think that's the wrong vote to make since something drastic needs to be done.

        This reminds me of a slashdot sig I once saw:
        The government: Something must be done, this is something, it must be done.
        I will agree that something needs to be done. I don't think that the deal they had was it though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by suckmysav (763172)

        It seems to have escaped most peoples notice that Asian banks are not participating in the current financial meltdown extravaganza and there is a reason for that.

        The US banks have been behaving very very badly and have already been bailed out a couple of times in the past.

        The "bubbles" you've had in the last two decades were the results of government bailouts designed to stave of a recession, and they worked. Sort of.

        The problem is, if you keep bailing out these numbnuts they will just continue carrying on

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Abreu (173023)

          The worst thing is that the US has been telling other countries to "take their medicine" and learn to swallow their own economic crisises without goverment intervention.

          It is no wonder that people in Brasil, Argentina and Mexico are now calling the bluff on US hipocrisy.

  • Yeah... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dwiget001 (1073738)

    Please shut up, we do not want to hear from you on important matters.

    We know what's best, so just get over yourselves.

    Signed

    House of Representatives

    • by Millennium (2451)

      When the servers crash, nothing gets through at all. Is this not perhaps a lesser evil?

      • Especially if they're stupid enough to try to run the constituent email through the same mailserver (probably a MS Exchange box) that they use for their "business" email (ie, who's having lunch where, and which lobby is paying for it).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          There was a big Congressional email meltdown several years ago, wasn't there? I think it was during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. Anyway, I heard that was because the MS email servers couldn't handle the load.
      • Re:Yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dwiget001 (1073738) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:03PM (#25209779)

        Could be.

        However, I would like to see more of a "Due to the large volume of people wanting to communicate to their representatives on the bailout vote and other matters, we are greatly expanding and refining our e-mail services to ensure that your messages get through".

        Notice, that I just wrote *is not* what they are doing.

        I guess, to a degree, curbing the amount of traffic is like the bailout they are proposing, it is just a bandaid, doesn't actually solve the real thing that needs solving.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by guruevi (827432)

          I don't know about our government, but IF 1% of the 250M Americans decided to write an e-mail over the last week (which means 2.5 million e-mails over 5 days or 500,000 e-mails per day or 21,000 e-mails per hour which should be about 1 Mbyte/minute) then I would be able to handle the load with 1 or 2 Postfix servers and of course a large enough storage. Heck, I'm currently processing about 1000 connections per hour for an organization (100 IMAP connections, website etc. included) on a 4 year old PowerMac G5

    • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <`Satanicpuppy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:15PM (#25209977) Journal

      Oh please. I'm no fan of the government, but they're not in a position to just "fix" the problems with the economy, and they don't really need Joe Sixpack's crap advice piling up.

      Of all the coverage I've seen on the current problems, hardly any of it actually hits the real roots of the issue. The 700,000,000,000 bailout is being pushed (hilariously) not because anyone who knows really thinks it'll solve the problem, but because the people who are pushing it know it will be perceived that way, and calm down the markets.

      The whole issue revolves around the new FAS regulation from a year ago (157, if anyone cares) which required the banks to revalue their investment holdings based on the daily current market values, which, due to a current housing market glut, are tanking. In the long term most of these assets have a much higher (and more stable) value, but since they're being measured in the short term, these horrible reports are coming out and scaring the shit out of everyone.

      Frankly, having the government snap up a chunk of semi-stable investments which, in all likelihood, will render an eventual profit isn't a bad deal if it will get all the goddamn market amateurs to stop having hourly shit-hemorrhages.

      But all the average scmuck knows about the situation is that the government is going to "throw away" 700bil on something that will (depending on their view) save/destroy the economy. They've got no idea, no more than the better informed people who are pushing it, and their attempts to get in the way are just causing problems.

      To use an IT metaphor; the mainframe has eaten itself, and you're trying to fix it, and you've got to do things that may or may not destroy data, but that have to be done regardless just to get the system running again. Is it productive to listen to all the people who have a stake in the data screaming their uninformed opinions? Not really. I think Congress is displaying a distinct lack of tact, but I've been known to tell a CFO to go fuck themselves sideways a time or two myself, and I'm finding it hard to blame them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        isn't a bad deal

        other than the fact that they have no constitutional authority to do so...

      • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lgw (121541) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:42PM (#25210425) Journal

        The underlying problem is, house prices are *way* over-inflated. Inflation-adjusted, they peaked at *double* the historical norm, and all this mess started when they came back down just 10-30% (regional). There is a generation of people who honestly believe that house prices don't go down, and have made grave mistakes in their personal finances as a result. Nation-wide, house prices above about 3x the median hosehold income aren't sustainable, and we're still about 5x (and of course far worse in the housing bubble cities).

        While there were certainly a subset of loans that were just bad - forged docs, impossible payments, etc, and that's what's causing this month's crisis, the problem is much deeper. There's an entire culture now of buying a house with a mortgage payment of 80%+ of your take-home pay, counting on cashing out equity every year because "house prices only go up". This isn't a problem the government can fix.

        Sure, the governement needed to intervene to avoid a market panic, but really it just needed to "make a market" in these mortgage-backed securities, to allow them to trade at a value not absurdly depressed by that panic. That's not a $700B bailout, that's just splitting the difference between buyer and seller.

        Long term, however, house prices are certain to fall back to sustainable levels, and anyone thinking "we just need to put this problem behind us so house prices can start rising again" is in a dream world. The governement isn't going to solve that problem, and shouldn't try. Do the minimum to stop the panic, and get out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by bagsc (254194)

          A few clarifications for you:

          The monetary expansion that fueled the home-buying binge started in late 2001. Overnight rates went from 6.54% in 7/2000 down to .98% in 12/2003, and by 1/2002 it was down to 1.73%, and the biggest changes in interest rates were over. So that's a convenient place to base our estimates of the "normal" price.

          The historical real increase in housing value has been about 1.5% over the last century. The CSXR was at 123.93 in 1/2002. And the CSXR peaked at 226.29 in 6/2006. Since

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by babblefrog (1013127)
        Wait: So you are saying that these things are actually way more valuable than their current prices would indicate? If that were the case, wouldn't people with money be snapping them up like free hotcakes?

        The only way this plan wouldn't lose the taxpayers vast sums of money, would be if Hank Paulson was much better at valuing these things, using other people's money, than people out there who would be spending their own money.

        I don't believe it. Sounds like BS to me.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wellingj (1030460)
        Frankly, having the government snap up a chunk of semi-stable investments which, in all likelihood, will render an eventual profit isn't a bad deal if it will get all the goddamn market amateurs to stop having hourly shit-hemorrhages.

        And you think this should be the government's job?
  • by cashman73 (855518) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:51PM (#25209599) Journal
    Subject says it all!
    • Most of the Congressmen I've called also have voicemail's that are completely filled up.

      Don't dare complain about it either! To them (Keith Ellison's staff) it isn't their job to clear the voicemail after business hours.

    • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:07PM (#25209839) Journal

      Complete awesomeness!!!

      I'd like to see Congress and the Senate Slashdotted handily for every bill up for a vote, well at least the really big ones. I don't really care if the bill is just about congressional medals or something similar.

      When it becomes common in the House and Senate for a legislator to take the floor and start off by saying "my constituents have been very clear on this matter via email and telephone..... I vote xyz" then we might consider that we have representative government.

      • by eln (21727) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:29PM (#25210211) Homepage

        "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion"
            - Edmund Burke

        I would not want to live in a world where representatives vote solely based on the opinions of their most vocal (and therefore usually most extreme) constituents. It's bad enough that most of them allow themselves to be so influenced by their most generous contributors.

  • by teknopurge (199509) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:51PM (#25209607) Homepage

    then I have this week. And by republican i mean REAL republican, not a neo-con like in recent years. Regardless of the fact that some house republicans were going to vote for it, it was enough in the end that an individual's ego made them stick to their principles.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You mean fiscal conservative don't you?
    • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:08PM (#25209857) Homepage Journal
      Full disclosure: Most of you would probably call me a pinko commie liberal.
      But here goes: I have to say a big thank you to the house republicans. They did the right thing, which this time was the conservative thing by voting against the stupid bailout.
      Now the the real issue

      System engineers are working to resolve this issue and we appreciate your patience.

      So what are they doing to fix this exactly? Hoping everyone looses interest so they don't have to increase their capacity? I dunno if thats gonna work - people seem pretty pissed (I am one of those people by the way).

    • by Sorthum (123064) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:21PM (#25210079) Homepage

      Agreed. I consider myself a Goldwater republican, but it's gotten to the point where people ask my affiliation, I mumble something about being a Libertarian and change the subject.

      Good on the House Republicans...

    • by TopSpin (753) * on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:57PM (#25210659) Journal

      I must agree. Conservatives and frightened Democrats prevented a massive take-over by the political class.

      Folks, it's a credit bubble. It's not the first and it won't be the last. There are no innocents; individuals have been racking up debt with large, adjustable, flex-pay, no money down liar loan mortgages, second mortgages, equity credit lines and third mortgages. They've been voting for members of both parties to make it happen; the left does it to buy 'low income' votes and the right does it for their Lehman buddies.

      Credit bubbles pop. At some point the accumulated crap must be flushed. That doesn't mean we must turn our Government into the investor of last resort. That's exactly how Fannie and Freddy got us here.

      Some fraction of all debt is presently considered 'toxic.' 30 seconds after that $700 billion gets legislated into existence the fraction of 'toxic' debt will multiply; the banks will be happy to invent as much 'toxic' debt as your Government thinks it can get away with buying.

      Screw that. I'm not under and mountain of debt and I'm not afraid of those of you who put yourselves under one. Life is too short to live in fear of morons.

      • Folks, it's a credit bubble. It's not the first and it won't be the last.

        Wake up sleepy head! It's a credit crunch.

        The well of easy short term credit has dried up. Financial institutions are currently experiencing a rather nasty bought of collective hysteria and as a result are grasping too tightly to what money they still have. They're not loaning any money to one another because they're afraid they and all their buddies are going to go belly up like Lehman Brothers in the very near future. They all need they all need every penny they have to pay off the loans they already took out from each other, because now they wont lend to each other because they're all afraid they'll all go under.

        Confused? That's because you think that modern financiers are either rational or competent at what they do. They are neither.

        It doesn't matter what the bill was about. The purpose of the bill was to act as a placebo for hysterical traders who literally have no idea what is happening and who cannot be relied upon to either calm down or trade rationally. I don't mean collectively speaking. I mean on an individual basis. That bill was a mass Valium prescription for a mass of people who are a danger to themselves and society. Taking it away was like dosing a crazy person with amphetamines, putting them in room 101, then giving them explosives and a loaded shotgun. Predictably, the traders and money men completely lost the run of themselves, and had a good old fashioned Panic Attack.

        This is not getting resolved by market forces. This is not going to correct itself. This cannot be left to the whims of Wall St, unless you think its a good idea to leave the world's financial systems in the hands of people with the mentality, reasoning and emotional state of a crashing meth junkie. Wait as long as you like, there's nobody home.

        No. This is going to require some good old fashioned Government Intervention. There's that taboo word. I'll say it again to drag Slashdot even further into disrepute. This Crisis Needs Government Intervention . You can deny this fact while you wait for your local junkies to start scrubbing the pavements out of civic responsibility, or you can wake up to reality and help clean up the mess that your mistaken opinions helped create.

        • by demachina (71715) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @08:01PM (#25212569)

          "This Crisis Needs Government Intervention."

          I don't think that is a given. We probably could go with either:

          A. A huge government intervention
          B. No government intervention

          I favor B. I think it will be fine if all the businesses and individuals that did stupid, risky things end in total ruin. That's what you get and deserve when you taken excessive and misguided risks in a free market. I think the bailout plan proposed by the Bush administration is mostly designed to bail out their fat cat Republican constituency before Bush and Paulson are kicked out the door. That is why they wanted $700 billion NOW, with no oversight, so they could blow it all bailing out their friends before Obama gets in the white house, and the orgy of cronyism and leeching off the government the last 8 years is over, or at least it switches to a Democratic orgy. It looks a lot like the bailout was a last orgy of wealth redistribution to the wealthy and as is typical for the Bush administration they used fear mongering to try to shove it through Congress without anyone questioning. Its cool it did get questioned and I hope Congress holds their ground though I doubt they will.

          It might actually be good if American business and American people can't get business loans, credit cards, mortgages or home equity loans. I saw earlier today that the "average" American is carrying a $10,000 balance on their credit card. That is insane. I have a $0 dollar balance on my credit cards and so do a lot of others so that probably means the credit junkies are carrying $20,000 on their credit cards probably at a steep interest rate. In the last 10 years or so the savings rate by the average person in China has risen from like 30% to something like 45%. During the same period the average savings rate for an American has plunged to 0%. We don't save everything. The little we do save is canceled out by staggering debt burden.

          The U.S. desperately needs to go cold turkey from their credit addiction, business, individual and government. Seizing of the credit markets is a sure way to make it happen. I'm really glad I no longer get 3 credit card offers in the mail every week. That was insane.

          A complete freeze in our credit markets may actually start compelling American people and businesses to live within their means, as in don't spend money you don't have. If you want to buy something work for it first.... gasp. It may hammer the housing and auto industries.... tough.

          The silver lining in the housing crash is home prices in the U.S. were astronomically inflated. If they crash 30-50% that will just bring them down to a sane level. It totally needs to happen, its not a bad thing. Sure its going to hammer people's net worth but if your net worth came from riding a housing bubble then it was a sham in the first place. The same can be said for the stock market. There is no law that says your stocks have to always go up/ If you've invested in the stock market for a while you made a lot of money, tough luck that you've lost 20% this year. Deal with it, stop whining and stop expecting the government to FORCE the stock market to always go up. Real markets don't do that. They should only go up when your businesses are really profitable and productive. Most American companies really aren't.

          Bottom line is most Americans were engaging in a giant Ponzi scheme the last few years, a lot of you made a lot of money on it. It crashed. Ponzi schemes always do. If you were taking out huge home equity loans, flipping houses, etc. its time to take your medicine for doing something foolish.

          Meanwhile we need to learn to make things again, we need to learn skills that have real economic value on the global stage. We need to rebuild our infrastructure and break our dependence on imported oil. Seriously, you aren't entitled to money for nothing and chicks for free no matter what the song says. The rest of the world is eating your lunch and unless you get off your butts and do something worthwhile you a

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            We probably could go with either:

            A. A huge government intervention
            B. No government intervention

            I favor B. I think it will be fine if all the businesses and individuals that did stupid, risky things end in total ruin.

            We (as represented by Andrew Carnegie) tried that already; the result was what we call the Great Depression. The problem is that it is not just (or even primarily) the "Republican fat cats" who "did stupid, risky things" who will suffer. Most have them have stupidly and riskily amassed large for

    • by Luscious868 (679143) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:58PM (#25210665)

      You're not a Republican. You're a fiscal conservative as am I. While there are some like us in the Republican party, certainly more than there are in the Democrat party, we're still a minority voice within the party. So much so that I don't consider myself a Republican anymore. There are very few Republicans like Tom Coburn in the Senate and Ron Paul and Jeff Flake in the House that are truly fiscal conservative today and were truly fiscal conservatives during their years in the majority. Most of the party just plays it lip service when it suits them.

      If there wasn't all of this public outrage at the bailout and if this wasn't right before Congressional elections I'm afraid you wouldn't see as many Republicans stand up for fiscal sanity. Where was this new found love for fiscal discipline during the Bush years when Republicans had control of the White House and had majorities in both Houses of Congress? They allowed the size of government, the size of the deficit, the size of the total national debt, the size of entitlement programs, and the size of future unfunded liabilities to grow at a rate not seen since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Programs of the 60's. That is the exact opposite of fiscal discipline. That's fiscal insanity. Especially when you consider that Social Security and Medicare are basically both ponzi schemes that only work if the working population stays larger than the population of retirees and we already know that isn't the case with the baby boomers.

      If the Republicans were in the majority now in Congress I question whether the majority of the party would be against this bailout. After all, if a serious economic downturn occurs people tend to blame the party in the majority and even though the public may blame Republicans for this mess right now if things still look bad a year or two from now and Democrats are still in the majority you can be sure the voters will begin to revolt. It benefits Republicans to oppose this measure because they are in the minority and won't be held accountable for the economy if it's still bad and Democrats remain in control a year or two from now. They can afford the courage of their convictions because it won't hurt them politically. I highly doubt if they'd be so willing to do the same if they were in the majority and were worried about the political impact of an extended downturn.

      I'm firmly opposed to this plan but I understand that not passing it means tougher times in the short and possibly medium term in order to have a better fiscal and economic position in the long term. Adding another 700 billion in debt on top of the 11 trillion we're already in debt is fiscal insanity when you consider the looming bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare. In order to be healthier in the long term we can't keep adding to the debt, we must start reducing it and that means no bailouts and it also means cutting spending. Not reducing the rate of growth, but cutting spending to free up the funds to begin paying down the debt. It may even mean reverting back to the tax brackets that existed in the 90's. None of these are popular, but they are necessary, and I highly doubt Republicans would have the will to advocate for any of them if they were in the majority and we're primarily concerned with short term conditions so they could remain in power rather than worry about medium and long term conditions.

      I have a new policy when it comes to voting for Senators and my Congressman. I'll always vote for a true fiscal conservative but if neither candidate in the race is a fiscal conservative then I'll vote against the incumbent, whatever party he or she may belong to.

      • by Myopic (18616) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @06:38PM (#25211775)

        thank goodness you said that. I keep wondering why conservatives vote for Republicans. Republicans aren't conservative! They never have been! Reagan grew the government three times as fast as Clinton! Bush is the most spendy President we've ever had (literally)! How far back do you have to go to find a Republican who was actually a fiscal conservative? There certainly hasn't been one in the last fifty years. If you're conservative, then for the love of all that is holy please start voting for conservatives, instead of Republicans!

  • ... we can't hear you ! la la la la la la .... something about blood of tyrants and patriots comes to mind.

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:54PM (#25209647)

    This is just good system administration happening. The systems can't handle the load so the admins have programmed the mailservers to drop a percentage down /dev/null until the load drops back to manageble levels.

    My mail server (and almost certainly yours) has many such throttles built in, It will stop accepting mail if the load average is too great, if available mail spool is too low, etc.

  • by omega_dk (1090143) <alpha.dk@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:55PM (#25209657)
    I would like to take this chance to encourage everyone to support groups working towards open government, from Black Box Voting [slashdot.org] to Verified Voting [verifiedvoting.org], and everything in between.

    The government is supposed to work for us; until we limit how often lobbyists talk to them, what right do they have to limit how much we talk to them?
  • by compumike (454538) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:55PM (#25209661) Homepage

    Given that they're all probably receiving thousands of e-mails asking them to reject the bailout, I doubt they're really doing much with them. I'd actually be surprised even you get the standard form-letter reply if they're so overwhelmed.

    But I think the overall message is clear. It's not a cacophony, it's thousands of people singing the same message: reject the bailout or we'll reject you in a few weeks!

    Ultimately, they're doing the worst possible thing right now, which is preserving the hope of a bailout. This leads to a further credit freeze, because banks won't sell their troubled assets at the (very low) market price because there's still the possibility that they'll be getting a much better price from Uncle Sam.

    If you want to free up credit again, we really need one of the presidential candidates to stand up and say, "There will be no bailout." That will force banks to start doing transactions again. Some might go under, but that's OK. We just need to end this idea that a bailout might happen, because right now that uncertainty is what is preventing people from liquidating their assets.

    --
    Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

    • by megamerican (1073936) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:14PM (#25209961)

      If you want to free up credit again, we really need one of the presidential candidates to stand up and say, "There will be no bailout." That will force banks to start doing transactions again. Some might go under, but that's OK. We just need to end this idea that a bailout might happen, because right now that uncertainty is what is preventing people from liquidating their assets.

      There are at least 4 Presidential candidates that have stood up and said no to the bailouts (Nader, Baldwin, Barr and McKinney). They also called for the Federal Reserve to be audited. It is just too bad none of them are taken seriously.

      I also find it funny that the FED pumped into the financial system almost $700 billion last week and $630 billion yesterday, yet the mainstream press focuses on the "bailout" bill as if that money is really going to do anything. The fact of the matter is the "bailout" bill goes far beyond giving out $700 billion. It is essentially making the treasury/FED a 4th branch of government.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FatMacDaddy (878246)
        "They also called for the Federal Reserve to be audited."

        I see this said often, as though the Federal Reserve system has never been audited before. It's audited anuually by the GAO and each reserve bank is audited by independent outside firms. So if this is apparently not sufficient, who is good enough to do the audit and how would their results be different from the results of the existing auditors if they both use generally accepted accounting guidelines?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      If no one is willing to sell, is it really a market price?

    • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:39PM (#25210381)

      There's probably some noise from wall street types saying 'bail us out'. But, yeah, the bailout is completely ridiculous so the vast majority are against it. Aside from the companies that made bad investments and will go bankrupt (good), the thing the say they are worried about is liquidity drying up. Lets look at this by analogy... I think this is fairly accurate:

      Say you have a $10,000 credit limit on your credit card. Due to the economy the company is concerned if you can repay, so they reduce your limit to $1,000. That's fine if you pay off your debt every month, but if you already have $6000 on it then you are completely screwed -- you have to pay $5k on your next month's bill, and you obviously don't have it.

      So the Paulson plan is basically to buy off that $5k of debt so companies don't just go bankrupt right away.

      Ok, well that's dumb because those companies are operating in the red anyway. They aren't healthy companies making profits, so they are just going to deficit spend again once some of their debt is lifted off. Instead, the lenders should rewrite the mortgages, either by the government leaning on them or by mandate... take the amount people owe on a mortgage and let them pay it over twice as many years, make it fixed rate, etc. Then the bailout can be paying lenders part of the difference.

      Problem solved for homeowners (who eventually refinance into a shorter mortgage once prices come back), problem solved for banks, problem solved for everything derivative from mortgages.

      Tell me where I'm wrong.

  • by richardkelleher (1184251) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:56PM (#25209669) Homepage
    The phone number for each member of the House and Senate is posted on their respective web pages. A phone call is so much more personal. I've got my Senators and Representative programmed into my cell phone.
  • How lobbying works (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:02PM (#25209761) Journal

    I don't know about how email lobbying works, but I've been involved in lobbying campaigns before. When you call a representative's office, you tell them you're for or against the bill in question and say which way you want them to vote on it. The operator say "OK, I'll let him know." They then count the number of people calling in on either side of the issue, and pass that info on to the representative. Of course you can't send bribes by phone, so whether or not this is effective is open to debate.

    I think it's interesting that what is normally a dry subject is generating so much public interest. I'm glad to see the American public sitting up and taking notice of important things for a change instead of just vegetating in front of reality TV and celebrity gossip while politicians try to take money out of the public's pockets to cover their own failure to properly regulate the finance industry. Maybe there's hope for American democracy yet.

    • From the other side (Score:5, Informative)

      by schwanerhill (135840) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:38PM (#25210371)

      I've been involved both in lobbying and in a Congressional (House) office (as an unpaid intern). Constituent contacts really do matter: a significant fraction of the staff's time is spent reading and distilling these letters for the Congress(wo)man. On this issue, the letters are nearly universally against the rescue package, which is the only reason Congress went against the opinions of the vast majority of economists (my favorite is Paul Krugman [nytimes.com]) to vote down this bill. If you think your voice doesn't matter to your Congressman, you're crazy, even though (s)he won't always agree.

      I know this is hard to believe, but direct bribes don't work. Organizing large numbers of constituents to call/email a Congressman does often work, largely because it demonstrates that you could also organize voters to challenge the Congressman at the ballot box. (That kind of organization takes money, so if anyone wants to consider that a bribe, fine; I consider it democracy.) However, an office will get tens or hundreds of copies of the same form letter from large numbers of constituents; those identical letters count less (though not hugely less) than personally written letters or phone calls.

      (As of 4 years ago, when I interned in DC, phone calls, emails, faxes, and snail-mail letters count equally, but snail-mail letters take multiple weeks to get to the DC office because of anthrax-related security. Letters from in-state but out-of-district are read but carry less weight than contacts from constituents and are unlikely to get a response; letters from out-of-state or without a name and mailing address go straight to the recycling bin.)

    • by Eil (82413) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @05:23PM (#25210949) Homepage Journal

      I think it's interesting that what is normally a dry subject is generating so much public interest.

      I've been looking at it this way:

      1. Banks screw over gullible subprime buyers with shit mortgages that they know can't be paid back.

      2. Banks screw over other banks by selling those shit mortgages to them.

      3. The top shareholders who know the true value of these shit mortgages get out while they're ahead and walk away billions of dollars richer because they know someone's going to notice this eventually.

      4. The banks that stayed thought they could keep duping people indefinitely but were finally left with all these shit mortgages and their businesses begin to crumble.

      5. The economy tanks as it notices that banks are failing because of the shit mortgages.

      6. The banks tell the government, "Hey guys, we need round about $700 billion to stay alive or else your economy is going tank further. Nevermind that it was our fault, just fix it for us, mkay"

      Now, here's what I take away from that:

      If we do nothing, some more banks fail and the economy continues to dive and the average citizen takes a financial hit until the market bounces back, which it will eventually.

      If we hand over a $700 billion check to the banks, they continue to operate and the economy *might* bounce back a little quicker. But--and here's the rub--that $700 billion comes from taxpayers like you and me. So we still take a hit. And who does this $700 billion go to? Rich Wall Street types so they can continue doing their business and keeping the profits in the end.

      I don't know about you, but as an average citizen, I feel like I've gotten screwed either way. The latter way twice. Since I have a good mortgage and a good job at a privately-held company that's doing great, I would much rather see the country take a little bit more of an economic hit than reward a bunch of rich bastards for first screwing over poor would-be homeowners and then the world's economy.

  • by Itninja (937614) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:02PM (#25209765) Homepage
    Ha! The US government has been slashdotted by its' own subjects. Sounds like it's time to write a script that will continuously submit an email until it's accepted (or forever, you know whatever).
  • by GlobalColding (1239712) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:02PM (#25209769) Journal
    This is why when the goverment asks us for 700 billion to bail them out, we must tell them to "COME BACK LATER". Like waaaaaaaaaaay later.
  • by FireStormZ (1315639) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:02PM (#25209771)

    Besides do you really think they read the majority of mail they get?

  • I got a follow up phone call 8 months later. Dare I say I was stunned! I know it was 8 months later, and the person who called me worked for some vendor trying to clear the backlog of emails, but it's nice to know they didn't just delete it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jcnnghm (538570)

      I e-mailed my state senator about a year ago regarding the tech tax that the state had just passed. I got a follow up call from the senator himself the following day on my cell phone. What was particularly notable was that the day of the follow up was Thanksgiving. They definitely care when they're contacted, especially about hot-button issues.

  • by Catalina588 (1151475) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:19PM (#25210047)
    What part of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does Congress not understand? The current situation is a "redress of grievances" to the average citizen.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

  • by OriginalArlen (726444) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:19PM (#25210053)
    That's the first I've heard of it. Could someone explain what's this is all about, please?
  • by bizitch (546406) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:21PM (#25210083) Homepage

    ... and I bet I could get the government some infrastructure that can handle the load

Programmers do it bit by bit.

Working...