With a bailout plan costing–cue the Dr. Evil voice–700 bee-llion dollars in the works (designed to prevent a meltdown that would in the neighborhood “north of $30 trillion”), The Gormogons write, “So maybe Bush is a fascist after all–Just not in the way the frothing lefties allege.”
There never was anything remotely like a period of laissez-faire in American history (at least not if “laissez-faire” means “let the market operate freely” as opposed to “let the rich and powerful help themselves to other people’s property”). The regulatory state was deeply involved from the start, particularly in the banking and currency industries and in the assignment of property titles to land.
I think it’s also worth comparing the bailout to the period in the first half of the 1970s when the Democrat-controlled Congress attempted to make the trains run on time–or at least keep them running at all–by creating Amtrak in 1971 and Conrail in 1976:
Amtrak was designed to take over passenger railroading, which was essentially rendered superfluous by commercial jet aviation almost everywhere in the US except the sprawling Northeast Corridor, where passenger trains are still viable. Conrail was designed to merge the failed Penn Central and a half dozen other smaller but also bankrupt railroads.
Amtrak is still in existence and still relying upon taxpayer dollars to survive. It may very likely never be financially independent. Conrail was designed from the start to be a profitable company, and eventually did turn a profit by the mid-1980s, when it also went went public, and was eventually merged into two different railroads in 1999. Fortunately, the federal government hasn’t gone into the railroad bailout business since the 1970s, and in fact passed sweeping railroad deregulation bills in the late 1970s that helped make Conrail financially viable in the first place.
So hopefully, like the railroad bailouts of the 1970s, this is a once in a lifetime event involving the investment community.
Until the next sector of the Mentos economy fails, of course.
Update: Nick Schulz has “The Acronym We Need.”