Welcome to the Great Debate

October 27, 2008

When we first began talking about a new section that would encourage Reuters.com readers to debate the issues of the day, the credit crisis had yet to explode into the global threat that it is today. Less than four months later, the public appetite for debate and new ideas has never been greater. Barack Obama was speaking for many across the political spectrum when he said the crisis “calls for the best ideas, the brightest minds, the most innovative solutions from every corner of this country,” although few would expect the search for ideas to stop at the U.S. border.

The debate around those ideas would have once been limited largely to the corridors of power, the newspaper editorial writers and the occasional letter to the editor. But this crisis is taking place at a time when every idea is challenged in the public forum of the Internet. The economic proposals discussed at the Nov. 15 meeting of world leaders in Washington will be instantly dissected, debated and reworked, and the consensus of that global conversation will feed back in some form to the policy makers.

With our global reach and expertise in finance and politics, Reuters is uniquely placed to host that debate. On this page, you will find Reuters columnists and other interesting voices from outside our newsroom discussing the credit crisis and other issues that concern our readers, such as politics, corporate ethics, technology and religion. You’ll also find selected entries from our blogs and pointers to the news stories of the day. We invite you to advance the debate by posting insightful comments, adhering to the house rules listed below. The pithiest and most insightful will be highlighted on the Great Debate home page.

While the topics won’t always be as far-reaching as the original Great Debate of 1920, when two astronomers tried to define our place in the universe, we hope the discussion will be just as passionate.

Richard Baum
Global editor, Reuters consumer media

Picture: Stagehands erect a piece of the set at the site of the third and final US presidential debate REUTERS/Jim Bourg

32 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

If President elect Obama really wants to get the economy moving he will turn his attention to the interest rates currently being charged on credit cards. Many consumers pay upwards of 25 percent on their credit cards. These rates are Draconian.

Almost 70 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is made up of consumer purchases. One of the best way to get consumers buying is to lower the interest rates they are paying on credit cards. This would put more money in their pocket and result in greater consumer purchasing power.

RE: Bailout
Why are we (taxpayers) bailing out big corporations that through failed management practices, outdated business plans and poor oversight find themselves in deep debt?
Bailing out these companies is only a bandaid on a near-fatal wound. Who’s helping the working class? Give a couple on hundred billion in refunds to over 18 taxpayers who support this country (no illegal aliens);refund it directly to their bank account with the stipulation that debts and past due mortgage payments be paid first (creditors satisfied) and the taxpayer can then buy that refrigerator or whatever they need. Mortgage foreclosures are stopped, creditors are satisfied (if they will agree to take the principal owed and a small 2-4% interest), and with the multiplication effect of money being spent and spread across the economy, new jobs may be created and the recession averted for the time being. It just seems that individuals spend their money wiser than politicians and goverments. Sure, it’s a simplistic approach, but it has a better chance of maintaining the working class, the backbone of this great country, than SIMPLY bailing out the fat cats and providing them greater bonuses for poor leadership,

Posted by Thomas Nolan | Report as abusive

Why spend so much time thinking about the governments mistakes when we as citizens have plenty to improve on? Sure, the government shouldn’t be bailing out everyone that asks, we should be trying to help the businesses that are still running stay afloat. After all, if all our businesses cave in, what will America be? President-elect Barack Obama has a plan. He cares about the government, most definitely, and he wants to clear their title (which seems nearly impossible in today’s world). He cares about the big businesses-like the ones getting the bailouts-but he also knows when enough is enough. For example, GM/Chrysler. Two really big car manufacturers, right? That means we should bail them out, right? Wrong. How about Toyota, Chevy, Ford, what are they? Bike companies? See, there are other options. Barack Obama knows that. He’s focused on the people because he understands that the people can fix it and the people have probably caused it and the people don’t realize either. The bailouts are a big deal, but I think the real problem are the people.

Posted by Lillian DeMorez | Report as abusive

Credit is difficult to obtain at any interest rate. Financial companies have little confidence in borrowers ability to repay because of the current business failures and the resultant unemployment. No industries appear to be immune from this contraction either. Look at the list of business closings. Long term employment and simultaneous job growth are what is needed. The only entity that can achieve this is government. Hopefully the massive investment that is needed will be used to rebuild our energy infrastructure and toward the conservation of resources. This type of an industrial economy can become self sustaining for along time to come as the environment is ever changing and the need great.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

This payoff to the automakers is the end all for the concept of Democracy in America. All the blogs,surveys and opinions in an overwhelming majority are against giving Detroit this money! And you can put that in caps! We finally got rid of bush now in the next elections we should get rid of any Washington officeholder who votes for this payoff! Our Govt. seems to be OUT OF CONTROL! John

Posted by mad john | Report as abusive

This is something most people have already figured out. the money from the bailout is coming from tax payers, so when we buy a new vehicle and pay taxes on that arent we paying double taxes on it?

I am a more than a little upset because I know that when the fuel prices were up and the economy began this deep plunge small businesses were falling off the grid left and right. There was no help there for them. Farmers that were in trouble not to long ago were getting aid from charities and non profit organizations.
Where was the aid for them?

We are all responsible for our own decisions and the auto makers as a whole have failed to look at the times and make the adjustments needed. There is no excuse as to why they have failed. There is no reason why they couldnt have seen this coming. By the government stepping in they are opening a door that they not be able to close.

I am a soldier currently stationed in Iraq and as a soldier I try to fight to maintain American freedom and those rights we are afforded by our constitution. I do not risk life and limb for others who get paid much more than me to watch as an ENTIRE industry goes down at the same time! The automotive industry is a image of America. It is a figurehead and icon associated with our great country….Do they know how much propaganda they just allowed? Do they know what they just gave those who are killing my brothers in arms. They gave them hope. Shame on them. Scott….Live from Baghdad

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

The greatest problem with our society is not just the finacial credit problem, this is just the symtoms of the real problem, the broad range of issues that plague our society, the distruction of our moral conscience and the removal of God from our school system to the distruction of the american family for the sake of convieance. we cover up or problems and rationalise them away and excuse them, to make it o.k. For the finacial problem to be solved we have to save not borrow, to make money, we must create an eviroment that will make jobs, new industries, and that means competative sciences and advances, but this will not come from greed, and our society does not take care of its own. All the government is doing is evolving for there own power growth, they are looking to rule us all, and the society is going to let them. there are forces out there in our government bent on our distruction and have been at work for many years, the news medi outlets are just the messangers of this movement. Really common sence says that if you do not have the money you do not go out an borrow more, to keep you going with no plan to pay it back. Our society says if it feels good than do it, how long can this go on. You need an example just look at all the Empires of the past and you will see the same mistakes being played out in our country. With out God in our lives, you are just doing is all by your self and we all need help, all of us. This problem is everybodies responsibily, if our country falls it is our own fault as a whole. We learned that we can make a difference, by voting but we need to keep this government for the people and by the people. So help us God.

Posted by powell | Report as abusive

Democracy is the best form of government so far. Just maybe the world new to improve on the working out of democracy.

It is good that the majority should have the final say. But after seeing how America choose to elect the \”I do not what word to use for him\” George Bush for President; and two terms my goodness, it is not time for a better system.

In democracy personal interest is up and above all reasons for choosing a good president. So I am calling upon the \”best brains\” in the most advanced nation to come up with a better way for democracy to work.

One man one vote have brought down a great nation. There should be some approach to ensure that this should not happen again. Just because it is the most advanced nation does not mean that the majority are the most enlightened. Most of them are just hilly-billies.

Posted by Ng Swee Ching | Report as abusive

Thank you for giving us the population a voice.
Sometimes are going to be educated voice, non educated voices, simple, sofix=sticated…..all of us sharing opinions , that is so important in any society and in our global society. Thank you again

Posted by Maria | Report as abusive

as far as im concerned, we should stop saying the big words. what we should do and can do, is to change our spending behavior, say, take control of our “spending tomorrow`s money buying today`s things”, because this is a time badly needs our corporation. the crisis start form our spending behavior, and it can also be the place where the crisis ends. lets call up our friends, our relatives, our peers to make a change in our daily life, so that together we can pass through all these hardships to realize our and also the world`s dream. deeply believe in ourselves and friends and relatives and peers that we can change, change to a better self, change to a better economic situation, and change to a better world.
what my piont is, we do little things to get the crisis passed at the point where it started.
we can do this, and we must do this!

Posted by Lawrance | Report as abusive

Washington has no Plan B to the uncontrolled printing of money and throwing it at myriad problems hoping that something works. We need to bury the zombie black holes that hemorrhage public funds: “too big to fail” banks, insurance companies and auto manufacturers. The reality is that no one wants to buy life insurance, an auto or entrust their money to a zombie. And their stock prices so affirm. Unfortunately, it is not just the politicians. The New York Stock Exchange has now suspended its rules to delist stock selling under $1.00. The surviving patient is one whose physician amputates the gangrenous limb. A retired 80 year who remembers the big D of l930.

Posted by sanford konstadt | Report as abusive

read the road to surfdom…and google teddy rosevelte and NYtimes 1912 you will see where it all started and why we have NO VOTE..

Posted by rm1776 | Report as abusive