Star Parker

My sense is that the attention that most Americans are paying as the power brokers of our government re-mold our future is not too deep.

Sure, we're watching to see which Wall Street firm emerges as the basket case du jour.

And the 50 percent or so of us who own stocks in some form are paying attention to the impact that each major announcement has on the market and on our nest eggs.

But beyond this, it's like watching the mechanic play around under the hood of your car. You stand by with your fingers crossed hoping that he knows what he's doing and that the price tag of the damage won't ruin you.

What's bothering me today, and what I think should bother you, is not only don't we understand exactly what these guys are doing as they play with our economic engine, but few are asking what authority they have to be playing around in there in the first place.

Talking about Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson, the Wall Street Journal reports "Today he finds himself in a position of power unmatched by his predecessors. He decides whether Wall Street firms live or die, picking winners and losers with the power of the federal purse."

Somehow the idea of our Treasury Secretary sitting like a Roman emperor, giving a thumbs up or down whether firm A or firm B will live or die, just doesn't wash with the basic principles of how I believe this country is supposed to work.

The "power of the federal purse" is a nice abstract way of saying there is open season on citizens and taxpayers. We are the federal purse.

Somehow we have gotten to the point where we citizens have been written out of the equation of our own country and Constitution. Paulson can decide to commit billions of our money -- you know, what we work for every day, save, and assume we own -- to play lifeguard and we don't even get a courtesy call asking if its okay.

So I ask, is this the disease pretending to be the cure?

There is, of course, a lot of discussion about the causes of today's financial turmoil.

It may be politically expedient to blame greedy Wall Street executives. And I have no doubt there's plenty of greed on Wall Street (or in Hollywood or elsewhere for that matter).

But as unattractive as greedy behavior may be, greed is not illegal.

I have not heard a single announcement about any Wall Street executive being indicted or about any law being broken.

But somehow it is legal and constitutional in America today, our dear country that supposedly has a Constitution that protects citizens and private property, for our private wealth and incomes to be used by politicians as collateral for their social engineering.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.