Rewarding Irresponsibility

While he doesn’t come right out and say so, I sense that Thoreau seems less than pleased with the bailout compromise:

Screw it. The real divide in this mess is not rich-poor, it’s responsible-irresponsible. Whether you’re a moron who borrowed too much or a moron who loaned too much, you get taken care of. Screw all of them. The Congressional Republicans will take care of the irresponsible rich people, the Congressional Democrats will take care of the irresponsible poor and middle-class people [edit:  let’s be honest, this is for the middle class, not the poor], and not a goddamn one of them will even acknowledge that some of us actually, you know, saved money instead of being stupid and reckless.


Of course, none of that changes the reality of the options we face.  Others’ irresponsible behavior is going to have massive consequence for the rest of us no matter what at this point.  The question is whether to sit back and let the market sort it out or to jump in and try to soften the blow. My instincts remain much closer to the former but almost all the experts, including most market-minded folks, think the latter an absolute necessity.

What’s truly interesting about this situation is that there’s massive centrist agreement on the need for a bailout with opposition coming from both die-hard conservatives and die-hard liberals.  I noticed that a week ago Sunday when watching the roundtable on “This Week” and seeing George Will and Donna Brazille united in vehement rejection of the plan while all the other panelists were for it.  I’ve since seen the same thing in the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Jennifer Able writes, ” Spider-Man got it wrong; what he should have said was ‘With great power comes no responsibility.'”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. mike says:

    And socialism has arrived. Thoreau has it exactly right. Those who act sensibly/responsibly will pay for the rest. However, this bailout is a necessary evil in my opinion. I’d like to see some indictments come down if any of these CEOs etc.. acted illegally.

  2. Jeez, can we declare a moratorium on the use of the word moron?

    No bailout. Let the guilty and greedy suffer the consequences. Perhaps much tighter credit is needed for a while considering how badly it has been abused.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    I have yet to see anyone adequately refute the idea this can all be traced back to government intervention in the mortgage market. From the Community Redevelopment Act to Clinton’s push for 70% home ownership the federal government has been instrumental in fueling the sub prime locomotive. Calls to reign in the problem before a meltdown were ignored and ridiculed.

    The most irresponsible party seems to be the government. Will we see those government officials be held accountable? No. So solving a problem created by government is the most responsible thing being done.