The biggest scandal ever

Well, it certainly was at the time, but not anymore.

“The Biggest Scandal Ever” was the New York Times headline on May 29, 1990, referring to the Savings and Loan bailout. Half a trillion dollars was the high-end estimate of the theft from the taxpayers; that figure sounds almost quaint by current standards, doesn’t it?

It is scandalous, all agree, but unlike any earlier scandal. By any measure, it is the largest by far. Forget the relatively puny bailouts of Chrysler, Lockheed and New York City. (Even the Marshall Plan, which bailed out Western Europe 40 years ago, cost a mere $65 billion in today’s dollars.) A greater outrage is that most of the perpetrators will escape.”

Almost 20 years later, though, just as we’ve managed to make a modest dent in dutifully paying down the S&L bailout with our hard-earned tax dollars, we find ourselves on the receiving end of another fleecing, this one 20 times as large and maybe 20 times as scandalous.

Take a stroll through the numbers here at CNN’s Bailout Tracker.  As we lose half a million jobs a month, as the virtual nationalization of banks and major industries continues apace, and as we realize that the real shock waves of this crisis are yet to hit us full-force, look through those 10.5 trillion dollars in commitments and see if you can find the part that’s supposed to get us out of this in one piece. If you find it, drop me a note and I’ll post an update. Good luck with that, though; as of a few months ago our elected representatives had “no idea” how your money was being used.

Speaking of those elected to represent us, US visitors can go here to find those names and numbers. It seems to me that it’s a good time to find out if they’re part of the solution, or part of the scandal.


  1. Rich

    Hi, this isn’t a response to your justified anger at feckless pols splurging taxpayers money to no good. I live in the UK and we have our own doing that right now.

    I came to thank you for “7 Seconds”, just finished it and well I hope this doesn’t sound ungratful, but, next please!

    I couldn’t comment on the “Welcome” post which mentions “7 Seconds” as the date for that post is 1st Jan 2006 so doesn’t seem to want to alow me to comment on such an old post.

    Anyway, another cracking read, really, really enjoyed it, will be passing it to my wife for her to be read pile. I didn’t even know it was out but when scanning along the shelves of a local shop I saw your name. I thought that name brings good memories so I grabbed the book and almost imediatley realised who you were and bought it. I didn’t even look to see what it was about. You are one of those authors whose books should be just bought when seen. You did not disapoint. thanks for another excellent read.


  2. ·

    Thanks, Rich. I’ve replied to you via e-mail; let’s hope I don’t get caught in a filter!


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