The Limits of Law and the Role of ἀρετή (Virtue) in the Climate Crisis

Kirk W. Junker
University of Cologne
On September 7, 2008 the executive administration of American President George W. Bush announced that his government would take over the giant mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, costing the citizens $200 billion. One week later, the 160 year-old American investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. What would soon be known worldwide as “the financial crisis” had begun. In response to that crisis, less than a month later, on October 3, 2008, the United States Congress passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which established the Troubled Asset Relief Program and authorized the use of $700 billion in taxpayer funds to bail out the banking and finance industry. As a result, the U.S. Treasury reports that the total bailout gave Bank of America $45 billion, Citigroup Bank $45 billion, AIG Bank $40 billion, J. P Morgan $25 billion, Wells Fargo $25 billion, General Motors $10.4 billion, Goldman Sachs $10 billion, Morgan Stanley $10 billion, GMAC $5 billion, and Chrysler corporation, a mere $4 billion. This response to a perceived crisis was not limited to the United States. On October 12, 2008—in one day alone—the United Kingdom coughed up the equivalent of €679 billion in bank relief. And in Germany, Der Spiegel reported on December 23, 2008 “The German government whipped its €480 billion bank bailout package through parliament in record time."
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