How Our Economy Rewards Failure

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This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Regulation is a dirty word in the business world.

Instead, what business people like to hear is talk of free markets unfettered by rules and regulations and anything else that might slow it down. If there is a problem, the market will right itself. The market rewards success and exacts a penalty for failure.

But who will be punished when the credit mess finally unravels? Foreclosures and dropping home values are only part of a much larger problem of unregulated financial instruments being so brilliantly manipulated so as to theoretically present little or no risk.

We're talking about billions and billions of dollars here that have been flipped and traded and diffused into so many forms that when in a crisis someone says it's time to pay up, no one is really sure who that is.

Don't be surprised if you hear calls for a government bailout. And if that comes, it truly would be the opposite of what all those free-marketers stand for. A reward for failure.
Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
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