Utah Congressman Jim Matheson visited UVU’s new library for the first time since its dedication on Thursday, Oct. 9. The Q & A conversation was dominated by the hottest and most frightening topic of recent days — the economy.

Matheson first discussed the breaking news of possible national banks — a historic move not taken since the days of Alexander Hamilton. He said that moving past emotions to make the best decisions is the best way to make an impact on any situation — however, with the monstrous $700 billion bailout, that did not happen.

Matheson continued and said Congress was rushed into a decision by an official who wanted Congress to make everything done with that money secret and free of judicial oversight. With an overextended government four trillion dollars deeper in debt than at the beginning of the current administration, the money is going to come from even more borrowing. Matheson said this foreign financial risk is likely to cause the creation of a new national vulnerability.

Other questions asked included a question from a student that UVU professor of ethics Elaine Englehardt’s asked on behalf of the student, “Why are campaigns so mean?” Matheson responded, “Because ‘mean’ works.” He went on to describe how campaign strategies tend to focus on differences when Americans actually share many of the same values. Focusing on the differences, he believes, is counterproductive. “Do we want to have critical thinking skills brought to the table,” he said, “or bicker over differences?”

David Keller, director of the Ethics Center, asked about the ideology behind the economic failure caused by “dogmatic belief” in free markets and the unmitigated excess that ensued, and remarked that a solution would be a socialized framework of government regulation and public ownership of means of production.

Matheson responded that looking out for the public’s best interest is the government’s role and that leveling the playing field would help rein in the free markets. “Pure adherence to ideology” is problematic, he said, but there is no one cause to point the finger at and finger pointing would not be the best way to approach the situation.

Johanna Smith, who has helped people with their taxes for twenty years, disagreed. “I think there needs to be some finger pointing,” she said as she explained that unethical lenders in the mortgage industry have caused huge problems for many of her clients. “It was greed,” she said, “and it was on a national scale.”

According to Matheson, the bailout did not address many issues, such as the houses that will be in foreclosure six to 12 months from now. “A thoughtful, deliberate approach,” he said, would have been more constructive. However, the central bank interventions going on are appropriate steps because that is where the problem lies.

For more information about Jim Matheson, his district and work, visit www.matheson.house.gov.