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Masters of the Universe to the Rescue

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This may be an extremely naive question — I’m sure it is — but how is it exactly that the U.S. government can essentially nationalize a firm with $100 billion in sales and one trillion dollars in assets in a matter of hours, with no legislative action of any kind other than a phone call to Harry Reid?

I mean do they just go to a big ATM or something?

As Atrios notes, in real dollars this rescue operation is more than 25 times larger than the infamous 1979 bailout of Chrysler, when both Congress and the presidency were in the hands of socialists, if I remember the history course I took from Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramm correctly.

That took an act of Congress. But in this wondrous new age everything — from multi-trillion dollar wars, to the sudden covert nationalization of whole industries (what justification will there be now for not bailing out the automakers, especially given their pension liabilities?) — goes straight onto the national credit card, with hardly any visible input or oversight from our elected officials.

Or, to put it another way, in America today profit is privatized but risk is increasingly socialized. It’s a form of crony capitalism that would make Russian oligarchs blush.

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