Their own hostages

Michael Kinsley suggests that the Mafia should be next in line for a bailout. As a Mafia boss explains:
"We would borrow one of these cars, open the trunk and stuff someone inside. Then we would call his family and demand, say, a million dollars to open the trunk and let him out" ...

"Still," he shrugged, "it was a nice little business, until these legitimate guys started horning in on our territory. Only instead of a measly million, they demanded billions. Billions! And here's the real beauty part." Baritone leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially. "They didn't even need to stuff anybody in the trunk of a car. They didn't need to grab any hostages. They were their own hostages. 'Give me billions of dollars and I don't get hurt.' Brilliant! I t'ink they call it . . . what?"

"Too big to fail," the Treasury secretary chimed in helpfully.

These white collar criminals are their own hostages -- I never quite thought about it that way.

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