AIG blew through $150 billion of our tax money in barely five months, sustaining the biggest loss in U.S. corporate history. Now what? Now the company will be receiving another $30 billion from the federal government, at least, in an attempt to keep this Titanic afloat. No guarantees, but I'd be shopping for a dinghy round around now.
This is what happens when you run a really, really big scam, as opposed to a small-time con like an illegal shell game on a city street. In the latter case, cops and prosecutors will hound you, and rightly so. In the former, Washington will simply throw obscene amounts of money at you without even blinking.
In other words, when you work your con game on the street, that's a crime; but when you work your con game on the Street, hey, clear the loading dock, because there's a fleet of Brinks trucks underway to shower you with cash.
On a related note: Yesterday, I thumbed through the latest issue of Consumer Reports, which presents CR's annual car reliability data. Remember that Chrysler received four billion dollars in federal money just a couple of months ago, and that its executives were back at the Capitol Hill trough last week, with an urgent request for 5 billion more?
You know where this is going. Chrysler makes the worst new cars on America's roads right now. In the Consumer Reports quality analysis,
But surely those Chrysler execs promising us better cars weren't talking out of their chutes, were they? Surely, with the automaker's reputation and very existence in the balance, Chrysler has been working on major improvements?
This chart, expertly annotated by yours truly, raises a question that the Obama administration finds itself unable to answer: Whose idea of sound fiscal policy is it to repeatedly and systematically reward abject failure?