"Who watches the watchmen?" A classic line by ancient Roman satirist Juvenal, which begs the question of just who is in charge of making sure our appointed sentinels do not abuse their powers. This past week has seen a the worst shaking of the U.S. economy since the start of the Great Depression. The U.S government is now scrambling to give $700 billion to bail out financial institutions who have dug their own grave through faulty financing. But just where is the accountability? I'm a supporter of a free market. I believe in having a economy that is open to risk, to giving people a shot to offer new services and products. But a free market swings both ways. A faulty business must face the full effects of its actions, which could ultimately lead to its failure. Let me give you a real life example. In 12th grade, we had a Economics Fair as part of my Economics class. People teamed up, two to three in a group, and everybody had to create some product. We were given a small amount of fake money, and told that we were free to wander around the room and visit each merchant table. Ideally, at least one member of your team was at your table at all times in case someone came over to buy one of your products. But I digress. In any case, we were selling a product called Vladimir's Bears. Basically, they were gummi bears impaled by a toothpick. My friend had a twisted sense of humor that I myself shared with him, so we thought sheer morbid curiosity would bring people over. It turns out that while Vladimir's Bears were indeed a hit, we were not able to sell them for enough money to make a profit. People would buy them only as long as they were cheap. Teams that did not sell out all their items still managed to make more money than us simply because the equilibrium price for our good wasn't high enough to encourage us to stay in business. In a word, we failed at the business, and that's the reason why you good citizens can't buy Vladimir's Bears in fine stores today. But when our business failed, we didn't go running to the teacher demanding that she subsidize our failure. We took it as a learning experience. Besides, I'm now a journalist and my friend is an electrical engineer, so obviously business wasn't our forte anyway. My point is this. Businesses are responsible for their own actions. This means they profit when they do well, and fail when they don't. Any corporate executive worth his salt would know that their business needs constant minding, constant oversight and constant feeding. But when one of those breaks down the system does as well. If the company has become so complacent that it's no longer checking its own actions, maybe it deserves to fail. But the cost of that failure should be bore by society as a whole. Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and AIG failed because of bad loans policies. They never should have accepted these loans. They never should have offered these loans. They got greedy, and in a free market they should be held accountable for their actions. That's why I'm against this government bail-out. It's not the American taxpayers job to subsidize failure. Nor should we have to cought up the money needed to fix this problem. But mostly, they should have a say in this situation. So America, call you're Congressman. Contact your Senator. Let them know that you don't want to foot the bill for Lehman Brothers' bungle. You're not keen on filling the golden parachute of Bear Stearns execs. They made money when times were good, now it's time for them to face reality. Who watches the watchmen? You do. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; spayne@hartenergy.com