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From the beginning of this economic crisis, policy makers seem to have forgotten (or perhaps learned too well) a basic economic rule. It’s one I used to have paraphrased in a sign on my desk in a previous job: You can have it fast, you can have it cheap, or you can have quality. Pick any two.

Put another way: You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get. Judging from the sizes of their campaign contributions, the ever-rising cost of the bailout, and the distressing lack of accountability (so far), the financial sector knows this well. From the deregulation and lax oversight that got us here, to the trend towards returning to something like business as usual, they’re getting what they paid for.

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