Corporate Scandals

Don't Clog. Be Clean. Get Screwed.

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To paraphase Hank Williams Jr., winner of a coveted Institute for Football Preparedness Award, are you ready for the sort of full-throttled hosing given to Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes?

When it comes to cataclysmic economic-bailout action, the important thing, says Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) is to act quickly, and not to "clog it up." Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, about the least-inspiring public figure since Mike Dukakis climbed into a tank or former FEMA jefe Mike Brown left horses behind, channels Gov. Eliot Spitzer in a hotel room and says: "We want this to be clean, and we want it to be quick." And Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate banking committee, says "As a Republican I'm not a taxer, but when we add a trillion dollars to the deficit, sooner or later there will have to be a reckoning."

Bad stuff to come; expect it all to be overwrought, misdirected, and absolutely ineffective in preventing future episodes. That $1 trillion figure, by the way, is the new number, based on $700 billion to the financial-market players plus several billion more in a stimulus package (read: future taxes) to regular joes such as you and me.

The one thing you can definitely expect not to see: Any sort of official discussion of how the massive regulations already in place either did nothing to circumvent the problems or to increase them.

And to the extent that any or all or most or some of this has to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (as Dodd holds), the feds would have done well to heed the pro-privatization advice of Reason Foundation analyst Robert W. Poole Jr. back in 1995.