Monday, September 15, 2008

The Government is playing Russian Roulette with the Market

Bear Sterns was too big to fail. Lehman, evidently wasn't. Taxpayers are now on the hook for Fannie and Freddie's loans. They may soon be on the hook for AIG's insurance claims. NY State has relaxed regulations to allow AIG to borrow from its subsidiaries to cover operational expenses. If CEO's made these kinds of decisions on their own, they be put under the jail.

The elephant in the room is total lack of consistency. It smells like panic. While thousands of small businesses around the country are making it day to day, the billionaires are changing the rules of the game as it suits them.

Maybe they'll dodge some bullets and the market will recover. Everything will be hunky dorey. Maybe things get worse. Companies fail. Claims go unpaid. Lawsuits get filed, perhaps even criminal cases against government officials who broke their own rules because they didn't know what else to do.

It may have been better to let the big boys fail and get on with the business of cleaning up the mess. Now the government has set and broken so many precedents, it's not clear to anyone anymore exactly how our financial system works.

I've got nothing against multi-billionaires. I'd like to be one myself someday. But why is it okay for Main Street to roll with the punches, but not for Wall Street? This is not about class warfare, it's about fairness and consistency and the equal application of the law. I'm not suggesting Main Street get bailed out. I'm suggesting Wall Street live with the consequences of their actions and judgments just like the rest of us.

Alleged capitalists do the cause no favors when they throw out the rule book for a select few. This behavior, this fear of failure only bolsters the case of the collectivists. The government's function is to enable free and fair trade, not to micro-manage it. So our 401K's take a beating. The market crashes. The dollar plummets. As long as it's transparent and just, we'll get over it. Americans are very resilient. Stability is over-rated. North Korea is stable.

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