Jesse has pointed us to a three part essay by Golem XIV, who asks the question "Why are we bailing out the banks?". Here is part one and part two. I am looking forward to part three.
I think Golem XIV dwells too much upon the current instance of self-serving behavior on the part of the ruling elite and ignores entirely the true state of reality implied by what is unfolding before our eyes in the context of two thousand years of history. I'd argue there is no such thing as "equality," no such thing as "liberty," no such thing as "democracy," and no such thing as "virtue" and "ethics" EXCEPT to the extent required to enslave us. All of these concepts, representative of the best instincts of humanity, have been perverted and turned against the masses for millenia, all thanks to the hard work of political philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, misanthropic, cynical bastards who turned the best instincts of humanity against it, all because they feared everybody else was as petty and conniving as they were.
The only hope for the ruling elite (who are very few in number) is to make the current crisis so bad that we fight each other over meaningful concepts that have been rendered meaningless phrases. And when we are done killing each other to uphold an ideal that we killed with it, the ruling elite will return to rebuild a "brighter future" that will look just like the past.
Plato and Aristotle were really all about power. Their works provide a Rosetta Stone for translating human spirituality and generosity into power for an elite few. Those same works can provide the basis for reversing the flow and returning the power to its source: the individual.