Public Comment

An Open Letter to Obama

By David Z. Weinstein
Thursday December 10, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

I would like to offer two suggestions for today’s job summit you are hosting at the White House. I think that it is President Franklin Roosevelt who we should all look to for inspiration during this great recession for his clarity of thinking and resoluteness of values in bringing the economy out of the great depression for the average American not Wall Street that got us there then as now. 

First, I think the government should step forward in protecting homeowners from mortgage rate adjustments that are coming due on millions of mortgages. Rates can skyrocket, making payments impossible for millions of American families and forcing them into foreclosure, which is devastating to the families, a loss to the banks and mortgage companies and terrible for the economy. 

Please do not be swayed by the moral hazard argument in this instance. Recent studies show that over eighty percent of these mortgages and other sub-prime ones were deceptive. The moral hazard is to let the banks and mortgage companies get away with this. 

These rate adjustments o should be less than one percent, I believe, and holders should be offered the opportunity to adjust their rates and payments lower under the existing government plans as well as others yet to be implemented. 

Second, I firmly believe that we need a Green New Deal to facilitate this country becoming energy independent, create hundreds of thousands of green collar jobs, and to protect against the clear and present dangers of global warming. 

Building a smart, national energy grid is a indispensable step in creating a green energy economy. To fund the build-out of the national grid, I propose a two cent fee for every share traded every day on the major exchanges. In addition I propose a one dollar surcharge on each one hundred shares of share options exchanged. This surcharge would apply short sales. There would also be a four dollar a month fee on every security trading account. 

These fees and surcharges on Wall Street speculation would in no way affect the economy, as this speculation does not create jobs. It would not appreciably decrease this speculation in any case, I believe, as the price to trade shares is at an historical low. 

But this funding mechanism to create the backbone of the smart, national energy grid would create tremendous wealth in the economy through well-paying jobs in scientific research, engineering, construction, maintenance and management. It would help make us the leader in the green economy, and, as you have pointed out, whoever leads in the green economy will be the economic leader of tomorrow. 



David Z. Weinstein is a Berkeley resident.