There are about 140 million individual US taxpayers in the US (despite a population of 300+ million). The non-taxpayers are exempt for one reason or another. So all of us taxpayers are now theoretically equity owners of American Insurance Group, Fannie & Freddie. The $85 billion dollar 'cash injection' into AIG works out to be $607 per taxpayer.
So here's my rhetorical question - in a few years when things calm down, and these companies are broken up and re-privatized, do you think I'll get 10 common stock shares (and the accompanying dividend stream) worth $60 from the new CEO of AIG?
Me neither. But he'll get a $10 million signing bonus.
Everything need to pop and revalue rather than this slow death march to the same inevitable conclusion.