Bailout: They Break it; You Own it – You Pay for it; They Own it

I linked to Jon Taplin’s blog some time back, and today I appended the comment below to a discussion of the proposed bailout, under the rubric “Paulson’s conflict of interest”. I note that Jon has added a number of more recent posts, so I’m going to leave you with this and go back to reading him:

I’m not a finance person, and in fact, while I accept that capitalism
seems to work better than other possible systems that have been so far
described and/or tried, still I’m uncomfortable thinking of, or calling
myself, a capitalist. Nor do I like the idea that I, and especially all
those unfortunate people who have lost or will eventually lose their
equity in the much vaunted “ownership society” will be saddled with
such a financial burden, a tax if you will, to bail out the class of
Americans for whom capitalism was invented and has functioned to their
great benefit.

I’d love to own capital assets, but at 64, it doesn’t look very likely.
If I’m going to pony up 6 grand (that’s two each for me, wife and minor
child-my single-parent son and his two splendid youngsters will get
stuck for the same amount, thus endangering their own ability to meet
mortgage payments) why can’t I get some feeling of ownership out of it?

I’ve long maintained that the millions of people who presently detest
capitalism (oh yes, big shots, there are so many of us!) mainly because
we have no capital, or even really know well how it operates, would be
a lot more engaged in the ownership society idea if we owned something
of it. Therefore, it is my position that every American, no, every
citizen of the planet, should receive a block of stock with real value
at birth that can be neither sold nor traded unless and until that
individual can demonstrate sufficient educational attainment to process
the transaction independent of assistance from another. Those who never
attain that level of education would never be divested of their stock.

So when this bailout goes through, how about giving the people who have
lost the most a piece of their initial equity stake back in the form
of warrants or shares or coupons or shells or beanbags or any other
negotiable medium that will mitigate the fact that, under the proposed
bailout, they will have not only lost their equity but will be taxed to
pay an equal share with the rest of us to reward the flint that skinned

If we’re going to pay for something under the ownership society idea,
is it so crazy to believe that we should own something once the
transaction is complete? I hope someone will answer this question
before that $700 billion check is cut, because I don’t really believe
its going to be enough to do the job. If it doesn’t, when that word
gets out……….


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