After Arianna Huffington was on Morning Joe today making the argument that taxpayers should get for their money what Warren Buffett got for his money when he invested in failed banks, CNBC’s Mark Haines went weirdly postal:

I was listening to Arianna Huffington. What’s the word I’m searching for…clueless?  Hey look, in the future you might want to get someone who knows what she’s talking about.  Hey, play back the tape if you like.  She said we have to stop bailing out the equity holders in the banks.  The equity holders in the banks have been destroyed.  She has no idea what she’s saying….I mean, you know, let’s get it right, okay.  


It is still the banking sector that is just horrible.  And we have destroyed the equity holders there, so we need to pump the equity in the banks up somehow.  

Mika and Joe tell everyone to read Mark’s blog.  Barnacle says "you should read it, he knows what he’s talking about…he’s a realist."  Pegaloon clutches the pearls and lace hankies in her mind and goes all concern troll, saying "he feels like he knows the truth and it isn’t getting out."  Everyone joins in for a group tsk-tsk.  

This guy is a financial commentator on CNBC.  What does he think happens to the "equity holders" if taxpayers "pump the equity in the banks up?"  They don’t take the hit for their bad investment, the value of their stock goes up and they get…wait for it…bailed out!

Arianna responds:

As Niall Ferguson writes on HuffPost: "Existing shareholders will have to face that they have lost their money. Too bad; they should have kept a more vigilant eye on the people running their banks… Financial history is, after all, an evolutionary process. When old banks die, new banks swiftly take their place."

That’s called capitalism, Mark. I missed the chapter in Adam Smith — or Ayn Rand for that matter — where it says that equity holders in insolvent banks need to be paid taxpayer-funded dividends. Did you say "clueless"?

Capitalism comes with great rewards — and commensurate risks.

Allowing stockholders to reap the benefits during the good times… and to keep reaping them in the very bad times — at taxpayers’ expense — isn’t capitalism. It’s lunacy. And only people like Mark Haines, their vision limited by Wall Street blinders, can utter the nonsense he uttered this morning.

I get that Haines is on CNBC and his job is to identify with stockholders.   Since there’s virtually no way anyone who has been huffing and puffing for decades  about the virtues of the cruel but fair free market can defend this unfettered taxpayer giveaway to shareholders and be intellectually consistent, his job probably has been reduced to  telling bold faced lies and unleashing ad hominum attacks against anyone with the temerity to point that out.

Hey Mark…Joan Walsh probably wouldn’t marry you, either.

Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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