Paul Greenberg

It had to happen. At a time when we've seen the birth of Government Motors and even Government Hedge Fund, aka AIG, it was only a matter of time before it was seriously proposed that we have a Government Press, too. This time the idea came from the distinguished president of an Ivy League university, another well-cushioned part of the American establishment.

It takes nerve to suggest that the way to preserve a free press -- the very phrase connotes a press free of government -- is to have government get into the news-and-opinion business. With your money, naturally, Gentle and much abused Taxpayer.

Under such a proposal, newspapers that accepted public funds would no longer be allowed to run their own editorials, at least openly. They'd have to do what NPR does -- insinuate opinions into their "objective" news coverage.

The advocates of ever more government may not have noticed that Washington is a little short of funds these days. Note the federal government's trillion-dollar deficit -- but it can always borrow still more. From us and our posterity.

This year's record for chutzpah, which might be loosely defined as nerve to the nth degree, may have been set by the CEO of Government Motors, formerly General Motors, one Edward Whitacre. "We don't like this label of Government Motors," he complained the other day. "It turns us off."

How's that for gratitude? We the (taxpaying) People bail out his failing company, but it irritates him to acknowledge it.

Sir, there was a simple way to avoid being labeled Government Motors: Don't take our money. But that may have been too much to expect of such a paragon of free enterprise.

A close runner-up in this Chutzpah Derby was Robert Benmosche, AIG's CEO.

You may remember AIG. How could anyone forget it? It was at the center of the bubble that went bust during the Great Financial Panic of 2008-09, sharing billing with those evil twins, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two other fine examples of your government at work. It was their mountain of sub-prime mortgages that eventually sank the housing market and led to the government's take-over of AIG.

That giant insurance company had to be bailed out because it was trading in credit default swaps without sufficient collateral. Now that it's been rescued by the government -- that's you and me -- its CEO regularly complains that the new financial rules adopted to protect the markets against another such collapse are too restrictive. Why, they could force his company to raise enough capital to cover its bets in the derivatives market. Like that's a bad thing. This guy sounds like chutzpah personified.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.