A mere fraction of the cost of a six-year-long war, and anyway, it’s for such a good cause — Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson will give it to the poor & struggling banks and other lenders who bought mortgaged-backed paper up their (leveraged) wazoos; and now, gee, there’s no market for that stuff because nobody can tell what it’s worth, if anything. Except, of course, Hank. (But his bill says, no fair suing me if I overpay. With your money. Which I just might do.)

Anyway, economist Dean Baker’s been onto these guys for awhile. (Title of his 2006 book: The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer.) He’s co-director of the DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research. And you can hear him in Raleigh tomorrow (Tuesday) for the price of a $10 lunch, courtesy of N.C Policy Watch. At the NCAE Building. Doors open 11:30, talking starts at 12. Registration required; click here.

UPDATE: A Baker preview.