In George Orwell's 1984, a disturbing--inasmuch as it seems prophetic--novel depicting the logical end of socialism, the government is able to harness its people's misery and frustrations and direct them away on a scapegoat: Emmanuel Goldstein.
Non-fictional governments have learned this lesson from 1984--always have an enemy. So long as there is an enemy, he can be blamed for all that is wrong with the world--his presence-at-large also serves as a justification for otherwise blatantly tyrannical actions by the state.
Think about it. The U.S. government used Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden for this purpose. Every few months, an Osama tape emerges to remind us that we need to support a foreign policy that tarnishes our reputation, spits upon our principles, and is leading us nowhere except bankruptcy and death.
Today, the two minutes of hate are directed at the CEOs of the failed Wall Street firms. The line seems to be that their reckless investing/swindling caused the whole bubble to burst, and the fact that these CEOs can leave their posts and retire in comfort is an affront to our senses--seeing as how we, the taxpayers, are about to get stuck with the bill.
However, I would like to offer a different perspective.
The "bubble" that the CEOs "burst" was created by the federal reserve. For several years, Alan Greenspan opened the floodgates of cheap, accessable money. This encouraged consumption, not savings; and progress is built upon the latter, not the former.
Human beings respond predictably to incentives, so shouting at mortgage firms and the like for taking unnecessary risks is like shouting at a dog for grabbing a t-bone steak that you'd carelessly left in his food bowl. Considering the dog grabbing a t-bone scenario, you would call the person who put the steak in the dog's bowl the real moron.
Seriously, it's like those parents who let their kids sleep over at the Neverland Ranch. What did you think might happen?
Indeed, bad federal money policy has been at the root of every major economic depression in American history (see the Panic of 1837 and the Great Depression). "Recessions" (which seem to be lower calorie depressions) tend to be caused similarly by bad policy. History lesson: The economy sucked in the 1780's because we had just finished fighting a war that our government had financed by loans backed by credit that was negligible. The economic problems of the 1780s had nothing to do with a weak central government under the Articles of Confederation. It had everything to do with the fact that the Continental Congress had spent millions of dollars that didn't really exist.
The real enemy, proper target for today's "Two Minutes of Hate" should be the federal reserve and Secretary Paulson. The Secretary's economic theory seems to be that the best way to cure the economy is to weaken the dollar.
Let's think about that for a minute. A weaker dollar means a weaker economy. So we're going to cure our weaker economy by making it even weaker?
Imagine a doctor who saw that his patient was dying of systemic lupus erythematosus--an autoimmune disease that causes the body's own immune system to attack its own organs. Next, imagine that this doctor reasoned that the pesky immune system itself is the problem. No immune system, no problem--right? So this doctor injects the patient with the human immunodeficiency virus. With a little luck--actually, just a little time--the HIV will infect enough t-cells to bring upon the collapse of the entire immune system. Once the HIV has caused AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), that troublesome immune system is gone. Hell yes, that lupus is cured!
So when the president talks about how necessary his proposed bailout is, just remember that he's curing lupus with AIDS.