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Don't let companies get too big to fail

Economic crisis

Don't let companies get too big to fail

With banks, insurance companies and car manufacturers on the federal dole, and their top executives getting lavish bonuses for putting them there — this hoary concept of "too big to fail" seems more and more threadbare. Increasingly, "too big to fail" looks like "too big to manage" (at least, effectively).

The issue here isn't between continued bailouts or no U.S. auto manufacturers. It's between continued bailouts or the bankruptcy processes that impose a discipline allowing failing enterprises to survive, then thrive. Bankruptcy has its risks, but they are fewer than endless taxpayer bailouts.

Longer term, Washington should revisit the thinking of Teddy Roosevelt and the trust-busters. They didn't worry a century ago that corporations like Standard Oil were "too big to fail." Progressives knew then that trust-busting both encouraged healthy competition and discouraged dangerous concentrations of oppressive financial power — dangers far worse than coddling shaky companies "too big to fail."

Some may think breaking up bigness a quaint approach from a simpler era. But "too big to fail" is "too big to manage." And it's both dangerous to a free, progressive society — and far more expensive for the taxpayers.

Laurence J. Paul, Nobleton

Smaller is better

"Let them eat cake" seems to be the mantra of the Wall Street aristocracy. I always thought that a bonus was a reward for doing an excellent job, not for just being there.

No company should be allowed to become large enough to impact the welfare of millions of people or the welfare of several countries. Let them declare bankruptcy and break them up into more manageable entities.

D. Thackray, St. Petersburg

Put limits on lawmakers' slush funds March 23, editorial

Taking part in the fight against campaign abuses

In your editorial you state that "no one is willing to stop" this egregious practice. This statement is simply not true. For years, I have filed bills to put a stop to campaign finance abuse.

In 2007, I filed legislation, along with Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, to abolish 527 organizations. That same year, Sen. Frederica Wilson and Rep. Scott Randolph filed the Clean Elections Act to restrict funding to shadow organizations.

In 2008, I again attempted to rein in donations to ECOs (electioneering communications organizations) and CCEs (committees of continuing existence) by limiting contributions to these funds to $500, the exact reform that you are advocating for in your editorial.

And once again, for the current 2009 legislative session, I have filed Senate Bill 116, to cap contributions to ECOs at $500.

The St. Petersburg Times is right to call out these slush funds for what they are, and I wholeheartedly agree that the practice needs to end. As long as there is a black market of unregulated funds being laundered through our campaign finance system, there is no way to truly hold competitive, democratic campaigns. These committees make a mockery of our campaign finance system. My bills, and the bills of my Democratic colleagues, are designed to put integrity back into a broken system.

Charlie Justice, senator, 16th Florida District

Mindless anger, populism miss the real crisis March 20, Charles Krauthammer column

An inept comparison

Charles Krauthammer completely misses the mark when he tries to minimize the outrage over big AIG excecutive bonuses and excuse them by sizing up $165 million as a "rounding error" and comparing them to Bill Gates' personal fortune and the New York Yankees' willingness to pay CC Sabathia absurd amounts of money.

The fact is Gates and Sabathia's money comes straight from consumers who knowingly purchase the product and get what they pay for.

I don't know of any hard-working people who decided that corporate fat cats needed an extra cash infusion at taxpayer expense. So far, the stimulus package is amounting to little more than Robin Hood robbing the already poor to pay the already rich.

Michael Kreha, St. Petersburg

Mindless anger, populism miss the real crisis March 20, Charles Krauthammer column

Political theatrics

It is not often easy to agree with Charles Krauthammer but he nailed this: Stop with the hysteria over the AIG bonuses. It is outrageous, but only symbolically.

The amount is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of AIG's bailout money. A couple of pennies in the big picture. Stop with the political theatrics!

David Alfonso, Largo

Bonuses were bought

I don't understand why so many people are upset by the AIG bonuses. After all, they were properly bought and paid for.

The two largest recipients of AIG's 2008 campaign contributions were Sen. Chris Dodd ($103,100) and President Barack Obama ($101,332). Sen. Dodd, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, accepted the recommendation of Obama's treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, that the AIG bonuses be included in the bank bailout bill and President Obama then signed the bill into law.

So, what's wrong with that arrangement?

David Brown, Sun City Center

Dangerous uproar

Congratulations. Political parties have finally achieved their apparent goal of converting class envy to class warfare.

After overusing the "suffering middle class" and then using smoke and mirrors to cover their own ineptitude, the political parties have now instigated such an uproar that people are being physically threatened over their "contract bonuses."

Having been middle class most of my life, I had always enjoyed the idea of potential increase of status by achievement, but now a "French Revolution" type of attitude has been fostered and the result has been frightening.

Let's get back on track and try to achieve and then be able to accept the rewards therefrom without fear of reprisal.

Robert Landman, Dunedin

Suze Orman

Misplaced blame

Has this woman been under a rock for the last 60 days? You have to question someone like Suze Orman when she lets her political bias cloud her financial good judgment.

To blame President George W. Bush for the debacle going on now in Washington is ludicrous. Congress has been led by the Democrats since January 2007, and their leaders Barney Frank, chairman of Financial Services Committee, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ignored the signs of the coming financial debacle on Wall Street at a time when they could have done something about it.

Orman needs to go back to Government 101 and learn that the responsibility of Congress is legislation and oversight. Is Bush totally innocent? No. But come on, Suze: Your business is selling your financial advice and you are just wrong in your assessment of blame on this one. You owe President Bush an apology! None of your books will make their way to our household.

W.E. Hutton, Largo

Less menacing looking Manson | March 20

The reality of evil

Charles Manson left us with one important legacy: the reality of evil in this world. Even the most tenderhearted moral relativists have come away from dealing with Manson and his followers badly shaken. They learn that there are people who have no place in civilized society.

The real crime here is that Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles "Tex" Watson weren't executed years ago.

The real heroes are the family members of the victims who have attended the endless parole hearings of these sociopathic losers. Thanks to their efforts, the killers have stayed in the slammer.

Pete Wilford, Holiday

Don't let companies get too big to fail 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 8:38pm]
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