A few years ago, I had a friend who asked me to be a co-signer on a car loan. Fast forward 6 months and I then became the proud owner of a Ford Focus worn and aged beyond its time. A few years later, the same friend asked to borrow money from me–“it’s just a short-term loan!” Unfortunately (for him anyway) I had to say no. He’s a nice guy (and still my friend) but he proved that he couldn’t manage his checkbook. I figured (based on experience) I wasn’t likely to see that cash again no matter how good his intentions were.

Haven’t our friends at AIG suggested to us that they have a rough time balancing their checkbook? $85 billion? The Fed is willing to loan that amount to these guys. Isn’t that how all this trouble started? Lenders were encouraged (read: mandated) by the government to give home loans to people who were likely to have a hard time paying the loans back. Sadly, the Fed hasn’t learned from these mistakes, as we see with the AIG bailout. It’s only a short-term loan! But what happens when the loan isn’t paid back? In that event, the government (really I mean you and me, but it’s less frightening to say “the government”) would be out a mere $85 billion. Fortunately, we have that kind of cash to throw around.

But in this case, it’s actually much worse. It’s not just a loan; it’s an investment. An $85 billion investment in a money pit of a business. In actuality “the government” (we) can lose more–much more–than $85 billion. And that’s not even counting the systemic fallout of such a debacle.

But, really, if there is a lesson to be learned here, it’s in where to point the finger. It’s not really the government or mortgages or bridge loans or anything the talking heads are telling us. It’s people. People at these companies making bad, irresponsible decisions and then leaving us holding the bag. Remember: Mortgages don’t kill corporations, people do … with the help of the government.