Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prudence and the Pill

Everybody loves a rollicking British bedroom farce.

In the 1960s sexual taboos were called into question, popular culture was in a transitional stage, and David Niven and Deborah Kerr starred in a harmless bit of cinematic fluff entitled:

Prudence and the Pill.

In keeping with the cultural imperative of the decade, "The Pill" of the title was looked upon as a Magic Bullet that could shield man and woman, young and old, from every manner of irresponsible behavior. As in all farce comedies, things go awry, birth control pills and aspirins get switched and mother and daughter wind up pregnant. A laugh riot.

Today we have another version of Prudence and the Pill.

Prudence is the sense of responsibility and discipline demonstrated by the great majority of Americans who live within their means, work hard and pay their bills.

The pill, in this case, comes in the form of government bailouts for the idiots and incompetents that have spent the last four decades running their old-economy enterprises into the depths of Hell.

These dinosaurs have no logical or rationale basis for their continued existence beyond the "too-big-to-fail" argument.

But what would happen if we were to turn that "too-big-too-fail" excuse on its ear?

What if we were to determine that a money-losing enterprise was too big to continue on life support? Now there's an idea.

Keeping General Motors, AIG and CitiGroup alive prevents younger more innovative companies from jumping in and filling the void. Pouring money into moribund Detroit manufacturers, irresponsible banks and predatory mortgage companies rewards bad judgement and forces those of us that bought cars and houses we could afford, after saving enough for a down payment, to subsidize those who refused to defer gratification.

It's exasperating. Time after time, our government steps in to save the fools from themselves. The result is that every well-run enterprise in America is placed at a severe competitive disadvantage.

Worse, they are forced through penal taxation to fund their competitors' idiocy.

And it seems that this folly will never end.

Instead of our prudence being rewarded we're forced to swallow the biggest and bitterest pill our government has ever served up.

And how will future generations look upon this sorry period in American history?

Will this this episode resemble a British farce?

I think it's much more likely that the ending of this drama will be An American Tragedy.