Dear Huan Yi,
But only those who were Knights with at least a certain fixed large amount of money were allowed to be Senators. Not enough money in the family coffers, they were out on their ears. And if you think elections today are corrupt, you've been missing some vital historical vitamins. Senatorial seats were important in themselves, but also because they were the gateway to truly spectacular graft and often robbery and murder on a grand scale.
A glance at the Romans makes today look calm and regular.
It also tends to suggest that oligarchs remain oligarchs whether the name is Caesar or Bush.
In our case, however, we can vote the senators and the congressional representatives out of office if their popularity actually remains as low as you report it being. The Romans didn't have that legislative option, though some other offices were open to the vote.
As for the crisis that so upsets you, it seems to have taken quite a while to develop. It may be a crisis now, but it wasn't when the web of regulation that had prevented it since the great depression was being undone by those who felt that there was too much government regulation, and that it was tying the hands of business. Indeed it was. It was apparently preventing business from doing this sort of thing. From having banks own insurance companies and vice versa. From charging usurious interest rates so they might extend credit beyond those places where credit should be extended.
When folks warned that the economy was in danger from such policies, the Republican response was to say "Are YOU hurting?" and to ask if the stock market had shown any signs of distress.
These days the Republicans have had a revolution in their approach to the issue: They have ceased asking if the stock market has shown any sign of distress. You can still hear them ask "Are YOU hurting?" if you listen closely.
My father just died, and the downturn has done some things to what he left my mother for her maintenance. Am I hurting? I guess that depends on how you'd define what a son should be doing for his mother. If I were to say, that's between my dad and my mom and I have nothing at all to do with it, then I guess you have to say, "No, I'm not hurting at all."
On the other hand, if I do have some responsibility, well, I guess that would change the answer a bit now, wouldn't it? I wish I could tell you where I think my responsibility ends. I'd feel a lot better that way; but I don't have a good answer myself. Sometimes I give money to folks on the street, sometimes I don't, and I don't really know why.
But I do know the Stock Market is down. And yeah, I know that I'm hurting, too, one way or another. I hesitate to call myself a bleeding heart Liberal. I am, of course, a Liberal, but I'm not a Catholic by any stretch of the imagination, and near as I can tell you don't have to be a Liberal to have some concept of the fact that you're not the most important thing in the universe, and that doing stuff for those who need help shouldn't be reason to attract the scorn and distain of others.
Sincerely yours, Bob Kaven