I hear that question a lot these days in reference to the financial institutions' collapse.
I have a theory.
Does anyone remember when Bush campaigned back in 2000 how he said that this would be an era of accountability. People would be held accountable, he said.
The National Bank of America drafted a bill that made it more difficult for consumers to filed for bankruptcy. I agree that people should have to pay their debts and not over spend but unfortunately it isn't as simple as that.
Consider this analogy. Is it wrong for someone to steal shoes off of my porch? Yes, it is. Who's accountable? Both parties. If I keep leaving my shoes on the porch and they keep being stolen, then maybe I should stop leaving them on the porch.
So this new bill by congress was the equivalent of the cops cracking down harder on those who steal shoes from the porch.
The banks of America thought that if the consumer couldn't file for bankruptcy then there was no reason for them to stop cramming credit down the consumer's throat. Whether it's a subprime mortgage with adjustable rates or outlandish credit terms or a credit card with fees on top of fees and outlandish interest rates, the financial instutes of America thought they were safe. They thought they could continue to leave their shoes on the porch and that the penalties for stealing would be enough to stop the culprits.
So, Bush's interpretation of accountability was very limited. Or perhaps it was exact. People would be held accountable but the institutions that made really bad policies would not be.
Congress wonders where they went wrong. How about this message: "Hey guys, if you keep putting your shoes on the porch, and they continue to get stolen, we're not going to buy you new shoes".