Sunday, January 11, 2009

too big to fail

Worthwhile op-ed on the possibility of the USA defaulting on its debt (gulp).

The phrase "too big to fail" is tossed around lightly these days. It gets applied to businesses in a capitalist system (where you'd think the Invisible Hand would occasionally dictate the failure of this or that business); thus does the speaker imply that the government must intervene and guarantee the debts of that private business. If the government overextends itself, could it likewise fail to meet its obligations?

And when you get right down to it, ain't the government the only thing that's genuinely Too Big To Fail?

Uncle Sam is not at all likely to default any time soon. But really, there is untold danger lurking in the path of unrestrained guarantees to companies that were 1) allowed to become Too Big To Fail (and thus just too goddamn big) in the first place and 2) engaging in pie-in-the-sky magical thinking that was not only detrimental to their bottom line, but ultimately to the government's bottom line as well.

Those people, in my humble opinion, should be prosecuted for fraud. We can spend billions per year prosecuting people for victimless crimes; how about let's spend some money busting white collar criminals too?

Now, if we can just figure out how to call it a War On somethingorother....


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