As someone who keeps a casual eye on the stock market (and who, of course, wants a functioning economy upon graduation), obviously I'm concerned with Bear Stearns sudden collapse. When a titan that big falls, the shock waves are going to be massive no matter how swiftly the government moves to stem the damage. One hopes that our public institutions are up to that task -- but the track record of this administration hardly inspires confidence in that respect.
But the other thought that persistently nagged on me was the very fact that Bear Stearns (through J.P. Morgan and the U.S. Federal Government) was getting bailed out in the first place. Obviously, I superficially see why this is so -- if they didn't, we'd be faced with a massive economic meltdown. But something rings uncomfortable to me that the powerful are insulated from the risks that they take by virtue of their power. If I kidnap folks and enslave them, I face life in prison at least. If a corporation does it, they're faced with a fine. A stiff fine, perhaps -- but shouldn't the executives and officials who concocted this deal also face criminal charges? Cigarette companies knowingly released a poison on the market without telling anyone of the risks. Yes, they get sued -- but the CEOs aren't being arraigned for manslaughter. Powerful actors consistently get to privatize the gains and publicize the busts. It's only the little people who have to worry about their own skin.
Like Darren Hutchinson, I'm not opposed to the Bear Stearns bail-out per se. But when I see it juxtaposed against strident opposition to public aid for other folks, who haven't behaved nearly as irresponsibly as Bear Stearns and whose mistakes have not wreaked nearly the havoc on American society, I grow white with anger. All this talk about "personal responsibility" and "welfare queens" and "no hand-outs", it's utter bogus. If you matter enough, the government will be there to back you up in the end. It's merely a question of who we think matters.