Paul Jacob

Looking for something to be thankful for? How about the fact that you are not too big to fail?

There are advantages to not being rich, or all that important. The rules don’t bend for you. That means you have a good chance of keeping your dignity, maintaining your self-responsibility. You may end up broke, but you can at least maintain your sense of place in the universe.

Pity, then, all the insiders. “Too big to fail” or “too important to go bust” means always having to say they’re sorry, but never actually being sorry. Because they’ve been bailed out.

Some day cultural historians are going to look back on this time, and judge the actual effects (as opposed to the predicted effects, by folks like me) of the Too Big To Fail doctrine. What will it do to all those egalitarians who line up so regularly to vote Democratic? They have such faith in “everybody’s equal” (or “should be made so”), but their politicians keep proving that some people are more equal than others.

And they do it every time.

The Olde Guarde Republicans, those Main Street folks who vote for the Wall Street bankers and wheelers and dealers . . . well, they’ve always believed that some people are more important than others. They support their brand of corruption (as opposed to the Democrats’) simply to maintain that fantasied order, their vision of the Great Chain of Being that places their ilk ineluctably on top.

But until future historians make up their mind about the Era of Bailouts, what can we say?

Well, perhaps The Carpenters put it best: “We’ve only just begun.”

Seeing an opportunity for “free money,” a number of bit players in the current crisis have horned in on the action. Shall we call it “No Nabob Left Behind”? Once you open the floodgates, why not let the states of New York and New Jersey, for example, get “special treatment”?

And then, just when you thought it could not get any more absurd, enter the Big Three automakers.

Hey: if the federal government is handing out money to banks, why not hand out money to failing auto companies?


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.