When rich people and their businesses go bankrupt, it's absolutely necessary for the government (us, the taxpayers) to bail them out and keep them from suffering because (a) it's not their fault--someone made them do it (according to the WSJ, Bill Clinton; according to others, someone else's greed) and (b) they're Worthy. Of course they should be able to keep their golden parachutes and their private stashes while others lose everything: they're Worthy. They took the risk (*and we pay for it*.) Moreover (c)it's petty and mean and Unworthy to make things harder on those who are already "suffering more than anyone else" (phrasing taken from Laura Bush about how much more she and George suffer from the war in Iraq than anyone else, but the principle is widely applied on the Right. As in the speech the wife of Enron's CEO made after that fiasco.)
When poor people or their businesses go bankrupt, it's absolutely vital that the government not bail them out because a) their bankruptcy is their fault and they must learn to pay for their own mistakes and b) they're Not Worthy. If they were bailed out, they would simply go on being irresponsible and become dependent.
Rescuing the rich doesn't make them dependent or irresponsible, because they're Worthy. They're Worthy, because they're rich. So even though they screw up repeatedly, even though there's been one screwup after another over my lifetime with chicanery by the rich at high levels of finance...they're still Worthy and it's vital that they and their valuable experience be retained and nurtured and coddled. After all, they work harder than anyone else. We know that because they tell us so.
It's only poor people, or middle-class people--the great Not Worthy and irresponsible mass--who automatically become more and more irresponsible and dependent if given any help. They can become Worthy only if they transition from the lower income to the upper income (and high up in the upper income) and are given the chance to make really whopper-size blunders with other peoples' money.
So says Received Wisdom.
It's possible to see this from another angle. WHY are the people who got us in this mess so convinced that they deserve a rescue? Because they've been rescued over and over and over again. Except in occasional brief flurries of public outrage, they are covered from childhood with the golden gloss of Worthiness, the shield that repels all responsibility, all accountability. Those who work themselves up to that level (and there are some) are Worthy only if they agree that their level of income is, by nature Worthy, and so all their co-equal and superiors in income are presumed Worthy (along with their spouses, their children, their dogs, etc.)
The best evidence that unearned assistance rots character comes from the top--from those who've had privilege and Worthiness handed to them, those to whom the gifts and the speaking fees and the automatic deference go. They don't consider those handouts...they believe they deserve every contribution, every gift, every junket, because they are (say it together now) Worthy. Why are they Worthy? Because, as fire makes smoke, wealth makes Worthy the least prepossessing of individuals.
So their arguments (however faulty) are sound and right because they're Worthy. They staunchly repeat obvious nonsense (no, lowering corporate taxes did NOT create more jobs for Americans...), and being Worthy, never have to deal with reality. They stand there in their good clothes, having flown in on their private jet, or appear on television, and explain at length why they are Worthy and we are Not Worthy to be given vast sums of our own money. They threaten that if they don't get what they want, there will be Trouble...a typical ploy of the spoiled brat, by the way.
Worthy is the Lamb, not the wolf in sheep's clothing.