When There Are No Rules Left

Traders work on the floor of the Nerw York Stock Exchange Thursday June 26, 2008. Stocks tumbled Thursday as Wall Street contended with a barrage of bad news: another surge in oil prices and warnings of trouble in the key financial, automotive and high-tech industries.
Weekly commentary by CBS Evening News chief Washington correspondent and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer.
Here is the part that bothers me about what's happened to our nation's finances, and we heard it underlined this morning by our guests:

This is not the work of those who broke the law. It is the work of those operating within the law, those who pushed the law to the limit, making loans the law allowed but common sense dictated should not have been made.

Through Democratic and Republican administrations, deregulation has become all the rage - Sweep away the cumbersome rules that make it hard to do business. A worthy goal for the most part, but as we're finding out, we have allowed deregulation to the point that in some cases the only rule left standing is that "anything goes."

And now we must all pay.

I hope this administration's rescue plan is the right way to go. Frankly, I don't have the technical expertise to be sure.

What I do know is that if we somehow get past this, we must get serious about laws that ensure it never happens again.

Our financial system has come to resemble a ball game where the umpires let the players call the balls and strikes.

In the debate over how much government our new nation needed, one of the founders, James Madison, said, "If men were angels, there would be no need for any laws, much less government."

Our free market system remains the best system ever devised, but we're still not angels.

Besides, no game works without an umpire.