The extortion racket

With respect to Barack Obama and George W. Bush's double standards in matters having to do with the government bailing out private enterprises, Michael Hudson asks this pertinent question:

One may ask why Wall Street's leading offenders — Hank Greenberg of A.I.G., Charles Prince at Citibank — were bailed out as if saving them was saving "the economy" itself, while only the auto executives were told not to pay themselves such exorbitant salaries and bonuses. If the auto industry has a "bad engineering" problem for which it is being held responsible, why aren't the banks, A.I.G. and their enablers — hedge funds on the other side of the deals that the smart boys won and the careless boys let them win — not being held to a similar standard?

His answer:

The explanation seems to be that the auto executives didn't have a cabinet official like Secretary Paulson working on their behalf to represent their special interests as being in the interest of the economy as a whole. On their own, they were not in a position to bring the economy crashing down around them if they did not get what they wanted. Only Wall Street is in a position to wreck the economy by plunging it into bankruptcy. It is this power that enables it to represent its interests as being that of the economy at large, and hence deserving protection that no other sector receives, certainly not labor.

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