The banking industry mess is a failure of capitalism, right?  So politicians and media tell us.  I have a question–How is this the free market in action?  Speaking of Democrat Representative Maxine Waters’ involvement with the minority-owned OneUnited Bank, the WSJ reports,

Ms. Waters and her husband have both held financial stakes in the bank. Until recently, her husband was a director. At the same time, Ms. Waters has publicly boosted OneUnited’s executives and criticized its government regulators during congressional hearings. Last fall, she helped secure the bank a meeting with Treasury officials.

Her involvement isn’t new. Ms. Waters has detailed her financial ties in a series of federal disclosure forms and has been vocal in public in support of the bank. Those ties, however, have received little public attention. Nor is it well known how the influential lawmaker has over the years acted to support the bank and its executives.

Such potential conflicts of interest are more serious as the banking system’s crisis has led the government to take an increasingly active role in overseeing financial institutions, including OneUnited. The financial-services committee on which Ms. Waters sits oversees banking issues, and the lawmaker is a potential future chairman.

Using her influence with regulators and the industry:

At a hearing on minority lending in 2007, Ms. Waters criticized regulators for not doing enough to help minority banks stave off mergers with non-minority institutions. The lawmaker said she had contacted the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2002 over such concerns and “I was told that there was nothing that could be done.”

In her 2007 remarks, Ms. Waters alluded to two banks, Independence Bank of Washington, D.C., and “another bank that was about to be acquired by a major white bank out of Illinois.”

Ms. Waters didn’t mention that OneUnited had been an unsuccessful suitor of Independence, which had been taken over several years earlier. The second bank, which she didn’t name, appears to have been Family Savings Bank of Los Angeles. In 2002, that bank backed out of a merger agreement with FBOP Bank of Oak Brook, Ill., and shortly afterward was acquired by OneUnited.

News reports at the time credited the intervention of Ms. Waters and others for Family Savings’s change of heart.

TARP to the rescue:

In January, Ms. Waters acknowledged she made a call to the Treasury on OneUnited’s behalf. The bank’s capital, which was heavily invested in shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was all but wiped out with the federal takeover of the two mortgage giants, and the bank was seeking help from regulators.

OneUnited eventually secured bailout funds under the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was set up later that month.

If a government official has the power to pick financial winners and losers, businesses aren’t participating in the free market–they’re gaming a rigged system.  But don’t worry.  Timothy Geithner assures us that capitalism isn’t dead–it’s just going to look different.  From Hot Air we get this video:

It’s isn’t capitalism just because you say it is, Mr. Geithner.  And with friends like these, capitalism doesn’t need any enemies.

H/T Michelle Malkin

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