The inevitable bailout.

The decision to let Lehman Bros. fail — the right decision as far as I can tell — now counts for next to nothing. I could've sworn that in America we let companies and shareholders that make bad decisions fail. I don't think you have to be an absolutist on this stuff, so maybe there are facts I'm not aware of in this case or arguments about contagion that are more persuasive than they seem on the surface. But it seems to me we are sorely in need of a teaching moment that says Uncle Sam won't make everything all better every time businesses get themselves in trouble.

YES! The old adage of "too big to fail" used to mean that very large companies could weather financial storms no matter how severe by virtue of market cap and/or market share. Now it means "if you're really large we'll bail you out at taxpayer expense."

No, no no. A thousand times no. I feel for the employees and shareholders of AIG but they should not be propped up by you and me. I have heard not one good reason why AIG or Lehman should receive taxpayer money to stay afloat. I was even leery of giving zillions to the airlines after 9/11. They were tanking through little fault of their own but giving them free money with no concessions was no answer.

AIG and Lehman have zero claim on taxpayer money. As has been noted elsewhere, there should be a direct correlation between government control and funding. That is, now that AIG has taken taxpayer money, the should be subject to government control, oversight and regulation. They took the money now they have to answer to their largest stakeholders; the US taxpayer.

Congress should impanel a board of advisors over AIG that will act as comptroller, ombudsman and board of directors. The should outline what the current financials are and make them publicly available online in the most granular detail. They should also show their strategic direction as well as intent for the company. If they plan to have the US Taxpayers divest themselves they should be required to refund every single dollar they took with interest over the life of that divestment.

I am no fan of government intervention in the economy and even less so of mixed economies and entities but there has to be constraints applied when they ask for a hand out.

Lastly, they should clean house. Senior management is summarily dismissed. No bonuses for anyone at the executive level unless or until salaries, pensions and debts are settled. Any contractual bonuses are hereby deferred until the ship has been righted or granted in stock at the present valuation. Any bonus granted in stock may not be sold for a period of 5 years.


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