"Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of good news for them individually,"
said Jeb Mason, who as the Treasury's liaison to the business community is the
first port-of-call for lobbyists. "The government shouldn't be in the business
of picking winners and losers among industries." Mason, 32, a lanky
Texan in black cowboy boots who once worked in the White House for Karl Rove,
shook his head over the dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages he gets every
week. "I was telling a friend, 'this must have been how the Politburo felt,' "
As bad as the original bailout plan was, this torrid scramble for money is even worse. AIG lives. Lehman dies. Is there any law, regulation, or other documented reasoning that led to this decision? No. It was the largely the whim of Bernanke, Paulson and friends. Is there any quantitative basis for the relative amounts of money that have been handed out under the TARP? No. Is any of this actually constitutional? No, probably not.
So now we have a herd of corporate pigs kicking, biting, and scratching to get at the government trough. What are the odds that the money will be doled in a way that is efficient and sensible? Zero. There will be winners and losers, and fundamental merit will have little bearing in discerning between.
Anyone interested in the long-term functioning of the U.S. as a Constitutional democracy should be concerned.