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Friday's Wall Street Journal just may have broken the code regarding the possible new workings of capitalism in our country: The winners get to keep their loot, and the losers' miscues are covered by the rest of us.
Or at least that appears to be the case if you take seriously the paper's lead editorial, which is titled "The Next Bailout: Detroit." With the likes of Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM ) , and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE ) having set recent precedent, it appears that Ford (NYSE: F ) , General Motors (NYSE: GM ) and Chrysler may have sidled up to a string of politicos, including officials of the Bush administration, with an eye to getting some public blocking for an end-run around their badly played risk-reward game.
It seems that plans might already be afoot for We The People to lend the threesome about $25 billion at approximately one-third the rate they'd have to ante up without our cosigning. There also would be other candy in there for the car companies as well.
My reaction to all this is that, if we can just spread the net wide enough, the markets can head south to their hearts' content -- as they have on many days in the past several months -- and we can all be tranquilized by the assurance that whatever happens, we've passed along the risks of our bad decisions to our fellow taxpayers. In fact, since the automakers today are being hit by, among other things, bad approaches by the feds that have clobbered the dollar and pushed energy prices to unheard-of levels, why don't we also tuck Delta (NYSE: DAL ) , Continental (NYSE: CAL ) , and AMR (NYSE: AMR ) into this cocoon of unconcerned care and comfort?
Here's hoping that my Foolish friends realize when their legs are being pulled. As an avid free-marketer, I feel strongly that the citizens of the U.S. of A. have no obligation to prop up either the executives of or investors in businesses that have been run badly. The market's been as tough as my old Marine Corps boots lately, but I continue to believe it's elemental that we all invest with the notion that, just perhaps, all our picks may not rebound to our profound benefit.