Is America too big to fail? It's a pertinent question, since corporations and banks keep washing up like beached whales, each day a new dollar-green tide.
Meanwhile the American people appear so concerned about the financial holocaust that they lined up before dawn on Black Friday like good patriots and started trampling store employees to death for discounted toasters and oversized bags of dog food. Woe unto he who steps between Americans and their discount racks.
The killing of a Wal-Mart worker by a mob of demented shoppers signaled a civilization in terminal decline, perhaps to someday be replaced by humans who spend their vacations sharing love with their families instead of murdering for a cheap Blu-ray player.
More than a little desperation was drifting in the air last weekend, and the breathless reporting on Black Friday sales was just confusing. Are we meant to repent by reining in spending and paying off our credit card bills, or are we supposed to scoop bucketfuls of water off the economic Titanic by throwing around money we don't have?
One report estimated that Black Friday sales were up 3 percent over last year, which is funny because according to stock market indices we've hemorrhaged somewhere between one-third and one-half of our national wealth in the past 12 months. Maybe we never needed it?
You'll find no remorse from the I-bankers, financiers and Wall Street dilettantes who led us into this disaster by extending and trading bad credit like NFL draft slots. They helped convince Americans that something can be had for nothing — which is true, but only if you have good lobbyists.
Individuals who believed that housing prices would continue to double for no good reason should have asked themselves questions like "Will salaries be doubling too?" Arrogance about the inevitability of magical wealth-creation was compounded many times over by a government that gleefully gutted sensible regulations designed to avoid precisely these kinds of disasters.
And now the forces of economic conservatism, who for generations railed against mythical welfare queens and leapt at every opportunity to usher more people into destitution, are lining up at the Treasury like shoppers outside the national Target. Seemingly every company on the S&P 500 is deemed too big to fail, but apparently we must worry about "moral hazard" only when it involves helping out ordinary people.
Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are apparently no Republicans during epic financial crises. We just witnessed one of the great nationalizations in modern history, and only a few Heritage Foundation ideologues and congressional Republicans even bothered to object in principle. Perhaps now there will be a bit less harrumphing from the Ayn Rand crowd every time some tin-horn dictator nationalizes an oil industry.
It's more likely, however, that Wall Street's thieves will double down on their free market fundamentalism by blaming this crisis on the poor, the unions and the government. If they had any decency, they would jump from the nearest tall building. Unfortunately, honorable suicide has gone the way of the land line, with only a few grifters joining their 1929 counterparts in pavement decoration.
But, of course, it is never the rich and powerful who suffer when their easy-money schemes fail. Even in the Great Depression the suicides were mostly farmers and factory workers. The losers are always people like Jdimytai Damour, the Wal-Mart worker who died under the feet of 2,000 desperate bargain-hunters.
And so the blackest of American Fridays stretches on. The creditors are lined up in the darkness, and we are all at risk of getting trampled once the doors open.
David Faris is a frequent Slant contributor. To respond, or write one of your own, e-mail your 650-word submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.