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CSU students debate Wall Street bailouts

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton State University student, Ryan LaRosa, believes the federal government should not throw life preservers to financial institutions, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Margaret Brown, another CSU student, however, is hesitant to stand by and watch those institutions drown.

LaRosa, a junior from McDonough, and Brown, a junior from Cleveland, Ohio, participated in a discussion of how presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are approaching the nation's economic crisis.

Few supported the proposed bailouts. All seem to agree more discussion is necessary.

The discussion was sponsored by the university's American Democracy Project. Todd Janke, an assistant professor of philosophy, was the facilitator.

"Both of the candidates are talking about doing what's best for the American people, but it's not clear yet what that is," said Janke, opening the discussion.

While the candidates' plans for fixing the economy were designed to be the main topic of discussion, the students focused on the proposed $700 million bailouts for a host of Wall Street financial institutions, including insurer American International Group, Inc., (AIG).

President George W. Bush's administration's proposed bailouts -- which have not yet been approved by Congress -- have dominated the news, sparking a debate locally and in Washington D.C., about whether the plan is a good idea.

LaRosa, who studies Austrian economics, said the market is "going through a correction," and the government should not give money to poorly performing companies.

"There are inefficient companies who keep going to the government for more money ... A lot of these companies should die off," he said.

LaRosa's stance raised some eyebrows and questions from other students, like Brown.

"If we let them die, what's going to happen to the American people?" she asked.

The group of 30 students, who attended the discussion, talked about their concerns that American taxpayers, particularly the lower class, would have to pay for the financial buyouts.

They also agreed there could still be consequences if the companies were left on their own.

Eventually, the group decided the issue required a more in-depth conversation about the state of the economy, which brought Janke back to the original issue of the discussion.

"The public doesn't have the patience for those kinds of discussions, and both of the campaigns know that," Janke said.