$30 B Down the Porcelain Throne

The other day, my boss made an interesting observation.

Six months ago, ExxonMobil recorded annual net income of $40 billion. It was widely considered, even by some in these august pages, to be outrageous. Bear in mind, that profit was gained lawfully, and it was either be returned to shareholders (98.5% of which are you, me, and our retirement funds, and not XOM executives) as a reward for taking an investment risk, or it was plowed back into the business to finance XOM’s 2009 investment program.

By contrast, over the last six months, our government has poured $30 billion or so into a couple of ailing automakers in hopes of “rescuing” them. Now, it is clear that the bailout has only postponed their inevitable bankruptcy. The benefit to the economy is nil, and it may even have been damaging as it resulted in a delay of a much-needed restructuring.

Which one of these events causes you the most outrage, and why?