A Conversation in the Postwar Years Business: We want to merge into massive, centralized corporate monoliths, with tentacles that extend into multiple industries and expand all over the globe. Will you please let us get MASSIVE. We want to own the ambulance service and the mortuary. Government: No. We can't allow you to grow so big that your failure would sink the system. We also can't let you merge conflicting interests. Business: Ok fine, but will you let us trade in riskier securities? We want to loan money to people we know can't pay it back, so we can turn those loans into fancy securities and sell them all over the globe. We also want to make side bets and create hedge funds against those bad loans. Lastly, we want to make money insuring those securities (even though we know they are toxic). We want to generate a million different types of profit from these loans. Government: No. You can't assume (buy/sell) that much risk. I know you want to make profit, but you'll have to do it the old fashion way: by making products with real value, not speculative junk based on manufactured junk. A conversation that started in 1980 Business: if we give you trillions of dollars over the next 30 years, will you deregulate our industry so we can do whatever we want? Government: Won't the American People come after us if we don't protect the economy? I know most regulations are terrible, but our financial regulatory apparatus has protected the system effectively for over 30 years. Business: we've got it covered. We will launch a comprehensive ideological revolution, with think tanks and popular media personalities. We will create a backlash culture which blames all the world's problems on liberal elites and government intervention. We will discredit the very notion of regulation. Remember what Johnnie Cochran did in the OJ trial? We will turn the government -- the agency which is supposed to police us -- into the crooks. Government: You really think that will work? You really think you can make people trust the greedy Wall Street profiteers and hate those charged with defending the public good? Business: You haven't met Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh. The regulatory apparatus does not stand a chance. The public good will be redefined as "social engineering". We will call all government behavior -- save war-making and tax breaks to the wealthy -- socialism. Before long, government will be too weak to stop us; we will be able to load the system with as much risk as we can sell. Welcome to the age of profit. Put on a seatbelt and enjoy the ride.