(CBS News) Is financial history about to repeat itself, with dire consequences? Here's our Contributor Ben Stein:
In 2008 the federal government made a terrible domestic policy mistake. While history showed that in bad times government must never allow a major bank to fail, the feds allowed Lehman Brothers, one of the five biggest banks in America, to fail.
There was a lot of talk at the time about "moral hazard" and costs. But at the end of the day the whole credit system of the U.S. went into a sort of cardiac arrest that cost trillions over time.
We're still feeling the effects time in a big way, in high unemployment, a collapsed housing market, and a sour, miserable mood of fear that has settled over the land.
Now we're about to make another terrible mistake and hammer the economy yet again - SLAM it while it's on its knees.
Greece, far-away Greece, may have to default on its debt and leave the Eurozone very soon.
Spain has close to 25% unemployment - that's a REAL depression. Italy is reeling.
If these countries go into default, the effects will be extremely serious. Yes, Greece is a small nation, but many big European banks own large amounts of Greek debt, and our banks own large amounts of those banks. If there's a collapse in southern Europe, the U.S. banking system would be hit hard.
That's exactly what we do NOT need at this point with the recovery wavering, and maybe another leg down to the already-brutal recession.
Europe is a mess. Reluctantly the U.S. needs to get involved there in a leadership role to protect Americans from further blows to OUR economy. We can help. We still have immense influence at the International Monetary Fund; they could support Athens. Our Federal Reserve has unlimited money creation powers; it can help Greece.
Yes, some will yell and moan about it, but it's to help Europe to help America - sort of like a Marshall Plan for our time.
Let's get out ahead of this one while we still have time. This isn't to meddle in Europe's affairs; it's to help Americans get out of the fear and into the sunlight, finally!