One of the must frustrating misuses of language to come in the wake of the government's response to the Great Recession is the claim that government bailouts are providing positive returns for taxpayers. It has been claimed that TARP investments yielded a $7 billion profit for taxpayers and the General Motors take-over generated $13.5 billion in profits for taxpayers. Now the Financial Times reports that the U.S. Treasury is going to continue with plans to sell $20 billion in AIG stock even though, because of lower share prices, it will lead to smaller than expected profits for---you guessed it---taxpayers.
To the extent that there were any truly positive returns on any of these experiments in fascist economics, they did not revert back to the taxpayers. The money reverted back to the U.S. Treasury, which is not quite the same thing. The fact that this money went back to the Treasury shows that these were not profits earned by the taxpayers. They were profits extracted by our rulers.
In 2008 there were approximately 90 million people in the U.S. who paid income tax. Let us say that the TARP program and the General Motors takeover did clear a total sum of $20.5 billion as claimed plus a half a billion from the AIG sale. That would equal a sum of $21 billion in profits. If this money really is profit reaped by the taxpayers, then it should be divided up and remitted to the alleged claimants--the taxpayers. If it was divided equally, each taxpayer should get a check for $233. Of course it would be even more just to adjust the size of the dividend according to the size of a taxpayer's total bill. In any event, I would just as soon have my dividend check know.