NPR's Planet Money team did a fantastic series of investigations several
years ago on the housing market collapse. And you're right, the private
sector shares a large part of the blame here. Readily approving people for
mortgages they could never afford and without doing any income verification.
Bundling thousands upon thousands of subprime mortgages into securities and
selling them back and forth at incredible profits. It was an unhinged frenzy and
companies were raking in the profits. Some companies knew this was a terrible
idea and would collapse, decided to bet against the market, and then
underhandedly encouraged other companies to continue this risky lending to help
ensure the market would collapse so they would get huge payoffs. It was
capitalism gone completely amok and a great example of how laissez faire
policies can leave incredible damage in their wake.But there are two
sides to the coin. No one forced millions of homeowners to accept enormous
mortgages beyond their income. The lending institutions may have approved them,
but they signed the forms chaining them to variable rate mortgages on homes they
should have known were out of their reach.
Somebody's been reading too much Paul Krugman - that stuff will disconnect
you from reality.And speaking of reality, government regulations and
pressure - most notably under the Community Reinvestment Act - were in fact the
major contributors in creating the climate of easy money in the subprime lending
industry that took off on the mid 90's. Yes, many other fctors were
involved in the subprime crash, but blaming it all on "greed" is just a
lazy leftist talking point. Greed has been around for a long, long time, and
will always be around in the banking industry just as in every other industry;
it's human nature. That wasn't the unique factor causing this
particular crash. Government pressure really took off in the early
90's as banks were pushed to lend to borrowers who clearly didn't
qualify. Not all banks suffered this pressure, but enough did to completely
distort the market since mortgage lending is such a competitive industry that
behavior by a few banks changes everyone else's; it has to, or they
don't survive.And bank profits only "took off" after
such pressure was applied; profits were flat throughout the mid 90's to the
The housing bubble and subsequent crash were a market failure. Republicans
can't admit that market failures exist, so they had to invent an alternate
history to explain it all. Their history has a few grains of truth, but the
fundamental cause was thirty years of financial deregulation which lead to the
financialization of every aspect of our economy.If deregulation had
not enabled banks to create Collateralized Debt Obligations, Credit Default
Swaps, Derivatives and a myriad other products, none of it would have been
possible.If U.S. government regulations caused the crash, then why
did Spain, Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Estonia, etc. all go through similar
bubbles and crashes at the exact same time?
Re: ". . . there are two sides to the coin."Not to
true-believing leftist academics. Particularly those in the soft
"sciences," who have no real fear of meaningful criticism. In their
fields, one theory's as good as another, since there's no real way to
prove or disprove an investigators' hypotheses.They clearly
feel a curious need to disingenuously justify and excuse abject liberal
failures, cynically blaming them on those least responsible. It's their
vain attempt to defend policies and practices that have an unbroken record of
miserable failure.It allows them to avoid the introspection and
self-examination real people believe is important.
Lew,Let’s address your misconceptions.Years of flat
wages – According to the census, in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 wages GREW by
1.54%, 3.22%, 5.59%, and 5.42% respectively across all incomes; and for the
lower 40%, they grew by 0.8%, 2.19%, 4.27%, and 5.57%, respectively, PLUS 2.15%
in 2007 when general wages shrunk. Growth does not equal flat.Feeding profits that landed in banks. – finance officers deposit money
in banks earning 0.15% when they could pay dividends or buy back shares and
increase the ROE? Sorry, not buying it.Banks needed to do something
with corporate profits so they pushed bad mortgages on people. Who held the gun
forcing people into unaffordable mortgages? Banks DID push loans,
but only because barney frank forced Fanny and Freddie to lower the standard for
secondary market loans, meaning more people could “qualify” for
loans. Banks made the commission on the loans, which they then dumped into the
secondary market. An unnatural increase in mortgages created the bubble; when
it burst, it brought down our economy. Thank Barney and the Fed
Voice of Reason..Community Reinvestment Act? That is the laziest of talking
points. Look at your own argument in comparison to Emajor.."And bank
profits only "took off" after such pressure was applied; profits were
flat throughout the mid 90's to the crash." Just what was that
pressure? It wasn't the government. Low interest, and programs to promote
home ownership had been around forever..as you say. What was the pressure..it
was simply opportunity. The opportunity to take massive profits put them in an
instrument where the risk was first of all passed on and then broken up until it
was entirely hidden. Wall Street firms literly imported russian physicists to
create the mathematical models that built the financial instruments that housed
the securitized mortgages. Yes greed has been around forever but the ability to
distort that greed to personal advantage reached new heights in the mid
2000's thanks to creativity and no oversight.
Government regulations were partially to blame for the housing bubble and
collapse, but so were a lot of other factors. To lay the blame solely on
government is wrong.But so is trying to lay all the blame on big
banks and greedy wall street executives. President Obama and other Democrats
have done that repeatedly. Do you call them out on that like you just did to
Senator Rubio?If you did, then you are a fair-minded person. If you
didn't, then just another partisan rant.
There was Government pressure to expand loans to those who really were not
qualified in a misguided attempt to increase home ownership: therefore the
statement that Rubio lied - is in fact a lie.
Failure to understand the mistakes made will greatly increase the chances of a
repeat.That said, how many people really, I mean REALLY want to know what
caused the banking meltdown?Looks to me that most will readily
accept any explanation that exonerates their party and puts the blame squarely
on the other one. Truth has very little to do with it.Hate to break
it to you, but greed is usually at the heart of most of these types of problems.
- Greed by the politicians to get donations. (yes, both R and D)
- Greed by the banking industry to make more and more money- Greed
by homeowners who thought housing would go up forever.- Greed by the
mortgage lender on commission- Greed by the appraisersWhen in
doubt, look at the money.
You're a little confused, Lew, and you're trying to obviscate the
truth.The truth is, former Senator Chris Dodd and his Democrat
friend in the House, the former Congressman Barney Frank eased the requirement
for the purchase of homes so that even the poorest among us, and those who
couldn't make monthly mortgage payments could qualify for a mortgage. This
looked fairly workable as the housing market had continued to rise for decades
so that, even if a buyer defaulted, the property could easily be disposed of for
a profit to the seller (or the bank repossesser). Then, when these people
started defaulting on payments and the market became flooded with unsold units
it started to collapse.The cause was not soaring corporate profits
as you seem to think. Any soaring profits would not end up in banks but would
be paid as dividends to stockholders as they should be. And even if the soaring
profits ended up in banks, so what? Banks cannot push mortgage loans onto
people in violation of governing laws.You Democrats will try almost
anything to get out of responsibility for the worst financial disaster in
Rubio did not "lie", just took a one sided view of the crisis that few
on either side would subscribe to. "Greed" is not a problem of the left
or the right, it is a human problem. There is no one cause for the bubble
breaking unless you want to say it was greed. Politicians, bankers, mortgage
brokers paid on commission, rating agencies, insurers will to guarantee sub
prime loans when made into collateralized bonds, cash strapped homeowners,
people seeing "easy money" to be made by "flipping" properties.
There is plenty of blame on all sides here. Everyone wanted their piece of the
pie and until the bubble burst they got more pastry than they could eat.
@Roland Kayser:"The housing bubble and subsequent crash were a market
failure."No. no. Lawmakers make laws to control markets so
failures don't occur. So, if there's a blame it's poorly
thought-out laws. And who makes those laws? The government. And who in the
government pushed those laws? Democrats Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, leaders of
their respective finance committees in the Congress, that's who. And what
were those laws? Allowing/pushing home ownership through sub-prime loans. And
what are sub-prime loans? Loans to buyers who are at risk of being able to make
monthly mortgage payments... examples were folks such as those who were on
federal unemployment rolls."If U.S. government regulations
caused the crash, then why did Spain, Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Estonia, etc.
all go through similar bubbles and crashes at the exact same time?"Because many of those countries invested in sub-prime loans or associated
collateralize debt obligations... much to their dismay.
"Government pressure really took off in the early 90's as banks were
pushed to lend to borrowers who clearly didn't qualify."Give me a break. No one mandated anything. A customer of mine, BB&T,
which holds over 95% of its own paper, didn't write risky loans - it was
their own choice to not do so. It was the ability of lenders to monitize
bundles of loans where the value of the bundled portfolio of these new
investment vehicles was dubious. When you able to hide high risk paper in with
quality paper, then turn them into exchangable equities with little
transparency, that was the green light to some lenders to cash in on a deeply
deregulated industry. There was little accountability to trh originators.As to Rubio, I felt for the guy. He was presenting his rebuttal without
the benefit of actually seeing the initial case being made. Regardless of side,
these rebuttals are so generic in nature they are many more times a waste of
energy than the SotU is. They have no context other than standard talking
points. It really wasn't his fault.
procuradorfiscal,"Not to true-believing leftist academics"Not to true-believing rightist anti-intellectuals either. Sorry. The
problem is "true-believing", not "leftist" or
"rightist". See WRZ's and Lost in DC's comments above.
It's always the other side.
Ivan Boesky was wrong. Greed is not good. Conservatives keep trying to spin it
so that greed is a positive thing, but theirs is an uphill argument.There was a time in America (between the Revolution and the Civil War) when
government chartered corporations to serve public purposes. The Founders had had
too much experience with the British East India Company and other corporations
and did not trust that particular form of business. So they chartered
corporations warily and to serve a specific public purpose, and generally
corporations were chartered for 20 or fewer years. The railroads changed all
that, and eventually they bought enough judges to get corporations declared
"persons."The result is, well, the mess we have today, where
greed is rampant and corporate values have devoured most of society. Can we
reverse the trends that have been dominant since the 1860s? Probably not. Maybe
economic collapse is the only solution. Then, perhaps, we can learn from our
mistakes and devise an economy that does not enthrone self-interest, which, by
the way, Adam Smith viewed as the hallmark of a suboptimal or mercenary economy.
Bluedevil,It was pressure by barney on fannie and Freddie that allowed
banks to monetize bundles of loans. two weeks before fannie and freddie failed,
barney said they were sound. Denying barney forced them to anything is smiply
not true.Emajor,Thanks for just calling names and not even
trying to rebut what I said.Let’s take a look at the result of
an ill-conceived law, shall we? One of the purposes of dudd-frank
was to end too-big-to-fail. Did you see the article in the arch-conservative
rag “Rolling Stone” (sarcasm off) about how BO’s injustice
department is failing to prosecute ANYONE at HSBC involved in the recently
uncovered money laundering operation there? The reason the injustice department
gave? HSBC was systemically too important, prosecutions would have caused
another banking crisis.So the dem bill (few if any repubs supported
dudd-frank) FAILED miserably to end TBTF and allowed known money launderers,
supporting al qaeda and Mexican drug lords, to walk scot-free.
@Voice of ReasonOf course it was greed. The entire bubble was caused by
greed. Greed from the banks, who wanted to make money selling those mortgages.
Greed from homeowners, who wanted a house without paying any money down and with
an artificially low monthly payment because of non standard loans and greed by
getting a bigger, more expensive house than they could afford. Greed by the
government, because they wanted to keep getting elected and keep their cushy
elected positions. It's not unique to this bubble, but this bubble was
caused by greed.
@Ford DeTreese:"Greed is not good."Greed has
synonyms... for example 'eagerness.' Try thinking of it as
'eagerness.'I suppose you'd be eager to maximize your
wages, wouldn't you? Could you use more income? Do you think of that as
'greed?' I wouldn't think so...Now, think of the CEO
of a corporation. His job is to maximize income to the investing stock holders.
As a stockholder, I appreciate the CEOs' eagerness to accomplish corporate
goals."The railroads changed all that, and eventually they
bought enough judges to get corporations declared 'persons.'"The reason the judiciary declared corporations as 'persons'
basically is so that it can sue and be sued. Perhaps it would dispel any
anxiety you feel to know that, even though a corporation is a 'person'
it can't vote, marry, make love, or do alotta things a 'person'
can do. Corporations can only conduct business activity according to their
corporate charter filed with the state of incorporation."Then,
perhaps, we can learn from our mistakes and devise an economy that does not
enthrone self-interest.."Sounds like you're thinking about
It funny reading conservative comments.Inone line its - The
government ALWAYS gets it wrong, they need to get out, and let the free markets
decide.then it'sThe Government didn't over-see enough of
the lending practices and deregulated too much.The flip-flopping is
astounding.It's no wonder at all why they chose Mitt Romney,
and it's no wonder they keep loosing elections.
@Open Minded Mormon:"In one line its - The government ALWAYS gets it
wrong, they need to get out, and let the free markets decide."If
the government get's it wrong it usually can be attributed to Democrats
like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi (who says they have to pass a bill before they
know what's in it)."Then it's... The Government
didn't over-see enough of the lending practices and deregulated too
much."No, no. It wasn't deregulation. In the case of the
recent real estate debacle, is was... Democrats pushing housing regulations...
that allowed banks to issue sub-primes, then bundle them to pass them to
government entities such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."The
flip-flopping is astounding."I think you're talking about
Obama... who pushed for sequestration several years ago and now is vehemently
against it. Good grief!"It's no wonder at all why they
chose Mitt Romney, and it's no wonder they keep loosing elections."Romney lost because he was against abortion, illegal immigration,
amnesty, and gay marriage... issues Obama and his Democrat friends support.
You lefties need to read something besides Mother Jones and Wikipedia on why the
subprime crisis happened.Of course there was an increased degree of
good/bad loan asset mixing going on, which was wrong. Did you see me write that
it didn't happen? And do you know WHY banks started doing that to a degree
never done before? Again, many factors contributed, but it all got started when
mainly the CRA, and a few similar laws, were dramatically strengthened in the
early 90's at the behest of Easy Money For Minorities crusaders like Barney
Frank who started lowering the boom on banks with largely unfounded accusations
of redlining, discrimination, and even racism. But the real reason was the
borrowers just... couldn't... pay... the... money... back. And yes, Barney
had the force of law behind him, since banks who don't knuckle under are
frozen and can't grow or expand operations. The real penalty is the very
public race-baiting publicity-death for a retail business like mortgage
lending-that Barney used like a sledgehammer.Bad/good loan bundling
didn't suddely poof into existence after banks suddenly became
"greedy". It was desperation borne of bad regulation.
Lost in DC,My first comment already provided a rebuttal to your claim that
Democratic federal policies were the only cause of the housing collapse.
Pointing out your one-sided partisan argument is not name calling. This was a
multifaceted problem and folks on both sides just want to blame the other. You
are included in that.I don't understand the relevance of your
Dodd-Frank argument (Dudd-Frank is only funny the first time you use it,
don't run your own jokes into the ground). That bill was passed after the
housing bubble collapsed. Weren't we talking about the causes of this
crisis?Voice of Reason"Bad/good loan bundling didn't
suddely poof into existence after banks suddenly became "greedy". It was
desperation borne of bad regulation."This is one "lefty"
who has no trouble admitting that people voluntarily took loans they
couldn't pay for, and that federal policies had an important role. But
I've heard enough analysis of this crisis from sources other than Mother
Jones to know that your statement is oversimplifying it. The actions of banks
and Wall Street were not simply desperation. They took it much further.
The Leftists never cease to amaze me with their irrational rationale.Congress forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford to pay them
back. That created the housing bubble. Period. Look up speeches and policies
pushed by Barney Frank and friends -- the proof is all there in public
record.Asserting that any business would push loans on people who
could not pay them back is patently ridiculous! What's the incentive, to
lose more money? Only government bureaucrats could concoct such a lose-lose
One small point, or maybe not so small point to conservatives..Freddie and
Fannie were almost small players in the real estate crash, and lagged behind,
wall street who no one forcred to do anything, by miles in loan failures.
Freddie and Fannie putts along from the mid 90's to the mid 2000's
with a loan failure rate below 5%. At the same time Wall Street failures jumed
into the teens, then skyrocketed into the 30+% range, while Freddie and Fannie
never got above the mid teens. Utah Blue Devil says it best..
"It was the ability of lenders to monitize bundles of loans where the value
of the bundled portfolio of these new investment vehicles was dubious. When you
able to hide high risk paper in with quality paper, then turn them into
exchangable equities with little transparency, that was the green light to some
lenders to cash in on a deeply deregulated industry. There was little
accountability to trh originators." That's the difference between 1995
and 2005..not Dodd Frank..or Freddie and Fanny.
But this is what partisan politicians do – they tell only one side of the
story, the side that fits their narrative. Is anyone surprised by this?Far more disturbing is the trend for large segments of the population to only
hear about and believe one side. Millions of people now live in information
bubbles designed not to enlighten but to make them feel good about all their own
predispositions (and outraged by others). To paraphrase J.S. Mill
– if you want to get closer to the truth always listen, and incorporate
where justified, the best arguments for opposing points of view.Or
we can just feed our self righteous egos by watching only Fox or reading only
the NYT, and if that’s your choice, fine… just don’t confuse
narrative confirming half-truths for the Truth.Housing Bubble
– in this case, Rubio is mostly wrong – the bubble was largely due
to the practices driven by Global Finance. If it was due solely (or mostly) to
misguided U.S. government policy encouraging home ownership, it would not have
been a global phenomenon, which it was...
Read "After the Music Stopped" by Alan Binder, an economist, and learn
that the collapse was caused by a long list of things but primarily the lack of
oversight by the folks at the SEC and other agencies charged with keeping tabs
on the workings of Wall Street. Standard and Poors, who are paid by the very
people they are rating, continued to give AAA ratings to the convoluted and
complicated payment structures created by the various banking institutions.
Collateralized Debt Obligations (CBOs), Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) and other
creations of Wall Streets traders were too complicated for the average Joe to
understand and so the creators of those vehicles took the money and ran.
Goldman Sach's infamous trader Fabrince Touree bragged to his girlfriend
that he might be the "only potential survivor...standing in the middle of
all these complex, highly levered, exotic trades" he created without
necessarily understanding all the implications of those monstrositieas.Wall Street's compensation plans create incentives for key empoyees to
take excessive risks with other peoples's money. And that is what they
did. There were many to blame not like the Wall Street Bankers and those that
wrz:So, basically, you're saying that you think economic
inequality is a good thing, that it will produce a healthy economy. Please
explain how. I've never really heard a conservative seriously defend
increasing inequality, but the whole conservative economic philosophy is geared
toward widening the income and wealth gap. Please explain how we can have
sufficient demand in the economy if the consumer classes keep losing ground.
Their real income has been steadily decreasing for 30 years. The numbers are
truly frightening, including the large percentage of the over-50 crowd that does
not save a penny toward retirement. How many can't afford health insurance?
How many don't earn enough to pay income tax or put food on the table?
Please, enlighten me. I'd love to hear your justification for increasing
Voice ofReasonLAYTON, UTYou lefties need to read something besides
Mother Jones and Wikipedia on why the subprime crisis happened.But
the real reason was the borrowers just... couldn't... pay... the...
money... back.============ You Righties need to realize
then it was those like your Tea Party Senator Mike Lee (R) Utah who is to blame
then.And you for supporting and voting for him.BTW - I
didn't make this a left-right issue, YOU did.FYI - I've ALWAYS
paid my "lefty" loans. Being honest with your fellow man is not a left
right issue, but a right wrong issue.
@lost in DC - if the speed limit is 75, and yet it is snowing and you drive
slower, are your forced to drive faster then you feel is safe. Smoking is
legal, and yet no one is forced to smoke. BB&T and many other banks saw
that just because you can, it wasn't prudent business to monitize the loan
packages.It gets ever so tiring to hear the endless blame government
crowd. Because you can doesn't mean you have to. It was these banks and
financial institutions, filled with Harvard and other named MBA programs that
choose to go down a risky path. I thought the whole idea of conservatism is
government doesn't force you - but when you choose to - you are responsible
for the consequences.Barny Frank didn't force anyone to do
anything. There was not a single sanction that made banks do anything. They
choose to drive 80 in a 75 mph zone. Their choice.
Life would be better for all of us if the government would do less not more.
Federal regulations are usually responsible for creating a mess where none
existed before. Healthcare will soon be a mess as will climate control soon
thereafter. We have become a people dependent on government rather than the
opposite way so we are all in trouble.
HSF: Does that mean that you don't think healthcare was a mess before
What I read here makes me think that liberals have no idea about human nature.
When there is a deep pocket there will always be those who will
think they can raid it without having any effect on others. The housing bubble
was mostly the result of a government program that created a deep pocket of
money. Bankers and loan officers felt there was plenty of money for them.
Housing speculators bought houses they knew they couldn't afford. But the
starting point was the government program guaranteeing loans. Health
care is going down the same road. Health insurance created a deep pocket, and
doctors, drug companies, insurance companies, and individual patients have
robbed that deep pocket money through fraud and price gouging. What seems a
benevolent program to care for people is a greed fest. The US
government is the ultimate deep pocket, so when the government creates a health
care program there will be more greed sharks gathering to eat it up. Market pressures and competition are the only ways to bring the price of
health care back down where is it affordable, not because government is evil,
but because of the evil in human nature.
Hate to get into this, but as I remember banks were told they had to make loans
by Clinton's admin or there would be consequences for the bank. So
it's taken a while, but it finally blew up. Come on, listen to barney and
dudd - they knew nothing! They thought they were encouraging those who could not
afford a home to get in and love the dems, so they would vote for them. Gosh it
sure worked didn't it? Something about 47%.......
I thought it was the law signed by Clinton that allowed sub-prime loans and
"Congress forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford to pay
them back."Thinkin man, or any other conservative, can you show
us the law that did this, and the specific language in that law requiring this?
@Christian 24-7 - I actually like the tone of your comment there....nicely done.
@Christian 24-7 - I actually like the tone of your comment there....nicely
done.I agree… very thoughtful and non-strident.That said, I think your points about healthcare miss some key factors. If
market forces truly are the answer to reigning in out-of-control costs, then it
would follow that countries with the most free market healthcare systems would
have the lowest aggregate costs – but in fact the opposite is true. The reason is that healthcare (at least the high dollar, life saving
kind) has a couple of inherent characteristics that, left free and unfettered,
lead to significant market failures. Those features are 1) unbounded demand when
people are sick and 2) asymmetrical information. Translation –
consumers have little knowledge or power when trying to shop for the best deal.
Healthcare providers are able to behave more like monopolistic
utility companies as opposed to, say, a wheat farmer whose prices are much more
subject to competitive pressures. There’s a reason why every
other developed country in the world has some degree of regulation in their
healthcare systems… and it’s not because they are all socialists.
Emajor,You rebutted my arguments in your first post?You said
rising wages are flat?You said banks DID hold guns forcing people to
sign bad mortgages?You said sophisticated finance managers seek
yields of 0.15%?You failed to mention slick willy and barney frank
meddling with fannie and freddie. Failing to mention something is not
rebutting.BlueDevil,From the NYTimes, that bastian of
conservative thought, published 8/5/08, “Once, a high-ranking Democrat
telephoned executives and screamed at them to purchase more loans from
low-income borrowers, according to a Congressional source.” and that was
not the only time. You know barney used his influence to get his lover a
high-paying job at one of the GSEs, don't you?Deny all you
want, Barney forced fannie and freddie into bad debt.RichardB,Your are correct about slick. Also, when derivative products first appeared
in 1997, his treasury secretary and the head of the SEC slick appointed said we
should not regulate them, because to do so would stiffle innovation.
Sorry Lew but your information is not correct. The mortgages were not pushed on
people that can't afford them by banks. They were pushed upon banks by
mandates of Congress to give mortgages to the "underprivilaged".
As I recall it was Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Harry Reid , Nancy Pelosi and other
democrats who pushed hard for "fairness" in home ownership and forced
Fanny and Fredie to change their lending policy to accommodate just about ANYONE
who wanted a loan. Bush caved in and is also to blame. It was also Frank and
Dodd whom oversaw the banking committee and gave rosy forecasts of Fanny and
Fredie and caused investors to lose billions. In my mind Rubio is EXACTLY RIGHT
about his comments regarding the housing bubble and mortgage melt down. Had the
politicians not gotten involved and forced the easy loans this mess would have
Re: Lost in DC, regarding flat wages. According to the U S Bureau of Labor
Statistics REAL wages (what wages will buy or in other words adjusted for
inflation) were positively absolutely FLAT as a pancake from 1975 through 2005.
With the recession, wage performance has no doubt been even worse than that.
Rubio can't even get his story straight about how and when his parents came
to the United States. Why should anynoe listen to him, or believe him, about
Oh my! And where are the millions that Mr. Raines and others stole from the
American people as a direct of "cooking the books"? (You can look it
up!). Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should NEVER have been created. Now, there is
talk of dissolving them. Do YOU think that will EVER happen. Not in our
lifetime! Too many bureaucrats feeding at the Federal trough that you and I
continue to "fill" with the taxes we pay. What a country!