Let me call your attention to the David Brooks column (what, him again?) that I chose for tomorrow's op-ed page, in which he chronicles the relatively new phenomenon in which honchos in the private sector are held publicly accountable for the kind of wasteful foolishness that they normally get away with completely and utterly:
I’m afraid there are rich people all around the country who are about to suffer similar social self-immolation because they don’t understand that the rules of privileged society have undergone a radical transformation.
The essence of the problem is this: Rich people used to set their own norms. For example, if one rich person wanted to use the company helicopter to aerate the ponds on his properties, and the other rich people on his board of directors thought this a sensible thing to do, then he could go ahead and do it without any serious repercussions.
But now, after the TARP, the auto bailout, the stimulus package, the Fed rescue packages and various other federal interventions, rich people no longer get to set their own rules. Now lifestyle standards for the privileged class are set by people who live in Ward Three.
Mr. Brooks goes on to poke fun at the bureaucrats and others (who live in Ward Three in D.C.) who suddenly are in a position to pass judgment on the Fat Cats…
… thereby missing the larger point that what is happening here is that for once, the denizens of the private boardroom are being held accountable — in the manner to which gummint is accustomed to being held accountable — to people with a differing world view.
One of the great ironies is that the anti-gummint types I argue with here on the blog all the time largely hold the views that they do because we in the sin-stained MSM spend so much of our time telling them about the outrageous waste and foolishness in the public sector, whereas almost no one ever tells them about the equal foolishness and waste that is normally shrouded in the private sector. And why is that? Because we see it as our mission to hold the public sector accountable. But when the private sector wants a bailout, it needs to understand it will have to play by the same rules for once.
Once you go public, you don't get to make up the rules any more.