Origins of “Too Big to Fail”
The financial debacles of the last few Administrations have brought years of debates about whether “Too Big to Fail” subsidies from beleaguered taxpayers are causing more harm than good.1 The belief was that, while it was not the taxpayers’ fault that these institutions were failing, the average citizen should “take one for the team” with large financial assistance or risk company bankruptcies and massive job losses. It has become a sort of hostage situation: “you fix the consequences of our greed or you’ll suffer more than we will.” Fortunately, many in power are becoming more skeptical of these ransoms.
Unfortunately, there is another scenario where we citizens are being told to do something intuitively counterproductive or face dire consequences even though we are not the cause of the problem. Drug addictions produce much physical and financial pain to users and frequently to non-users who have property useful for purchasing drugs.
It must be the belief of many social engineers that the human condition regarding addictions is hopeless2 just as Obamacare’s contraceptives and abortifacient policies express the notion that humans cannot suppress sexual urges. Back to drug addiction: instead of an all-out strategy to help those who wish to regain control of their lives, needle exchange programs are funded by some local governments in order to reduce the additional consequences of irresponsible behavior.3 Those consequences include the spread of hepatitis C and HIV and not only to the substance abusers themselves.4
Financial Bailouts: How Well Have They Worked?
Some of the early federal rescues occurring either after a company failed or before it did have had mixed results at best. Lockheed (1971), New York City (1975) and Chrysler (1980) settled accounts eventually and may have even yielded a return on taxpayer investment.5
Then there was 1989 Savings & Loan crisis: “The Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act authorized $293.8 billion dollars to finance the folding of numerous failed S&Ls. The final tab for the bailout was roughly $220.32 billion. Of that total, taxpayers were responsible for about $178.56 billion; the private sector covered the rest.”5
Bailouts have digressed resulting in the “Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP) which disbursed $700 billion dollars in Federal (taxpayer) money to clean up the mess because of the financial crisis of 2008. In many cases, a profit was returned to the federal government.6 However, the bailout did not come to the aid of the average person who was essentially being held hostage again. Instead, it rewarded those whose mismanagement created the crisis. Such was the final analysis of TARP.7
Drug Addiction Bailouts: Needle Exchange Programs (NEP)
These programs had their beginnings in Europe during the 1980’s. San Francisco, Tacoma, Portland and New York City implemented theirs before 1990.8 By early 2015, there were roughly 200 NEP’s in the United States.9 Most articles on the subject list data on the reduction of the previously mentioned diseases and other hazards. Some will state anecdotally that drug usage has not increased with NEP’s in their communities along with a few testimonials of how the NEP encouraged a few to consent to rehabilitation.
Rationalization Doesn’t Warrant Most Bailouts or NEP’s
Even though entering rehab is not a stipulation of receiving free, sterile needles, supporters of NEP’s maintain their actions don’t condone drug use. However, basic human nature comes into play with both financial bailouts and needle exchanges. Without legal commitments to reform selfish fiduciary actions, what’s to keep businesses or banks from taking unwise risks — only existing laws which may be insufficient. They will simply continue to operate as they have believing that a safety net will be thrown in their direction to neutralize the consequences of their actions and the innocent may or may not be spared.
The same goes for those who take unwise risks with their health; and therefore, endanger the health of the rest of us. Very little will change as long as the focus is on blunting the natural consequences of bad decisions instead of encouraging the responsibility to change destructive habits.
The desire to stop the spread of any infectious disease is certainly noble. However, before resorting to just any plan, we must remember that “The end does not justify the means… It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances.”10 Needle exchange programs must be modified greatly to be in concert with solving the root cause of the problem of substance abuse and to ensure that “NEP” stands for ‘not enabling people.”
2 – “This is an understandable argument; however, drug use is not going to end. Therefore necessary measures should be taken in order to help this unsafe practice become a bit safer.” From “Needle Exchange Programs: Making a Risky Behavior Safer,” by Kimberly Swan, https://www2.cortland.edu/dotAsset/122267.pdf
3 – The most recent occurrence of this: “Campbell County officials made the right decision to support the creation of a needle exchange program to give to give heroin users access to clean syringes. Studies have shown that, when implemented properly, needle exchanges can limit the spread of diseases including hepatitis C and HIV. Supporting needle exchange programs is not the same as condoning heroin use; it’s good public policy that protects us all from the potential spread of deadly infectious diseases.” Part of a Cincinnati Enquirer editorial, 5/7/2016.
4 – “These diseases do not remain confined to the network of individuals who are injecting drugs, but are transmitted to their spouses, families and communities.” From: “Column: Needle exchange programs not only help addicts, but the public, too,” by Dr. Judith Feinberg, http://www.wcpo.com/mobile-showcase/op-ed-needle-exchange-programs-not-only-help-addicts-but-the-public-too
5 – From “History of U.S. Gov’t Bailouts,” https://www.propublica.org/special/government-bailouts
6 – “Bailout recipients,” updated 5/23/2016, https://projects.propublica.org/bailout/list
7 – “Study: Bank bailout didn’t boost small business lending,” by Stephen Gandel, http://fortune.com/2012/11/14/study-bank-bailout-didnt-boost-small-business-lending/, 11/14/2012.
9 – “More States and Cities Consider Needle-Exchange Programs to Reduce Spread of Infection,” by the Join Together Staff, http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/states-cities-consider-needle-exchange-programs-reduce-spread-infection/, 3/31/2015.
10 – Taken from paragraphs 1753 and 1756 of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” second edition, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000.