First of all, the people who were smart enough to get and keep power in the United States are smart enough to have known how to maintain "market stability" so my premise is going to be that the present worldwide depression that is now rolling over us is no accident. The environmental conditions conducive to it might have been; but the opportunitst who have now gained the upper hand know what they are doing, and if Plan A fails, be certain that there is a Plan B, and so on, waiting for such a turn of events.
Second, those people mentioned above are not our supposed government; they are the leaders of the corporations who have amassed the most extraordinary profits in the last eight years, more money than any government can hope to tax out of its citizens: oil, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, which of course are all networked into a vast conglomerate I call "the Corpocracy." The "bailout" was no such thing, it was simple piracy carried to an absurd extent.
Third, there is an old strategy that the Japanese long ago named "sacrificial throw" in which one throws oneself in such a way that the enemy must go along, and gets more severely injured than oneself. In some cases both die; but the glory that accrues to the strategist is only increased in that event.
Why would our leaders precipitate such a horribly drastic crime?
Answer: they (the Corpocracy, not the US Government, though the distinction lacks much of a difference) are confident that they can hold their breath the longest, and emerge to a world that belongs entirely to them. I believe they are absolutely correct in this assessment. And they should know. They built this horrendous mess for the rest of us.
In a larger context, the world is stressed nearly to the breaking point on several fronts, indeed very possibly past various points-of-no-return as regards global warming and environmental pollution and population. But this last is chillingly interesting: The number of human beings living on Earth is the one area that is easily maleable. Should there be a sudden drop in the number of us demanding resources, the supply side of economic calculations would be solved for a very long time. Given this salient fact, the behavior of the most powerful human beings becomes quite rational. To see this we must be willing to think what has been unthinkable, for most of us. But no thought is unthinkable to everyone.
An unthinkable scenario is playing out now: an antagonist in the world competition for world dominance is implementing a "sacrificial throw" based on a precise calculation of survivability.
To make this simple: the people who have accumulated all the real wealth on the planet have decided to create a conflagration that will consume everyone, every nation, that does not have sufficient stores of fuel, food and arms to ride it out.
I don't believe that this was the original plan, whenever in the past thirty years or so it was hatched in the devious minds of people like that dick Cheney. I think we are in Plan B, or maybe even Plan X by now. Even five years ago, with the wars just cranking up to speed, it is plausible to think that the Corpocracy merely wanted to reconfigure the Middle East in such a way that China, Russia and Europe (if it did not quickly join in complicity with the project) would be helpless to do anything about it, and would have to become more or less client states of the US (or the Corpocracy, to be precise.) That this is a race war, or a conflict between north and south, or simply a war on the poor, seems of little import. The critical thing is that it is happening, humanity is actually consuming itself.
It may be some genetic adaptive strategy for which we're the lucky spectators. As a beekeeper I know this Autumn time of year is when a hive "clusters," storing as much honey and pollen as possible, and throwing the drones unceremonisously out the door to die of exposure. The bees then huddle in a ball, insulated by their stores, and eat their way upwards until Spring. If they have put by sufficient food, they may survive. If not, after eating their larvae, they die. It is a collective death-and-rebirth cycle, and an implacable and ruthless necessity, for bees. But bee analogies are usually the hackneyed allegories of would-be despots, who conveniently leave out the fact that bee society is a permanent and unshakable matriarchy, with only one matriarch for the entire tribe. Her husband literally explodes at the moment of consumation in their brief union. She is summarily executed and replaced by her children when her fecundity runs out.
Nature, red in tooth and claw, notwithstanding, the basic reasons for the present human situation are the same as ever in human history, the old "why does a dog lick its own crotch" theory: people do things because they can. And in the last thirty years or maybe a bit more, national boundaries and the national entities they delineate became obsolete. This occurred as one effect of the advent of small, high-capacity computers. That single breakthrough, the microchip, changed the balance of power so drastically and so rapidly that despite the distracting entertainment value of the technologies, corporate enterprise was thrust light-years ahead of any form of government previously devised. Put simply, Democracy could no longer handle the pit-bulls, Corporations. The dog now leads the master, and where it wishes to take itself, all of humanity must go.
The human system that was not adversely affected by this volution, e- or re- as you like, was the previous default setting for human social management, Feudalism. While slow, inefficient Democracy in whatever forms we had managed to create floundered and rotted from within, warlords rose to prominence. Some of them were benevolent and some simply irrelevant, comfortable in their obscene wealth while millions stood around on the dry, cracked ground and starved; some, more aggressive and ruthless, have entered a period more or less analogous to a "warring city-states" period of history. We are seeing a crisis of leadership now, as these minor strongment form alliances and "blocs," naturally consolidating to a few immensely powerful centers.
All this would seem to indicate that the purposes behind all action purporting to be "rescue" or "bailout" are not to stop the crisis, but to accentuate and accelerate it. Paul Craid Roberts, Krugman and others have recently indicated that in fact, the "bailout/rescue" is configured exactly that way. Since almost nobody in a position to either be heard or taken seriously in the public discourse is willing to consider that the purpose is to reduce the population of the entire world drastically and quickly, nothing is likely to be done about this.