Several banks have already returned the TARP bailout money, more are in the process of preparing to do so, and several larger banks have been denied permission to do so. Denied permission! The sheer dictatorial aspect of this program is breathtaking. Several large banks were bullied into taking the money last fall, ostensibly so it wouldn't be embarrassing when banks that were really in trouble took bailout bucks. That aspect of the program is a complete reversal of the transparency everybody in government says they want from the private sector. The TARP program deliberately set out to hide various banks' true condition from the public and investors. And now the government doesn't want to let banks pay back the money for the sake of saving the reputation of the program itself -- forget that it's supposed to be representing taxpayers' interests. But government always serves its own interest anyway, not the interests of the people it pretends to represent. Understanding that is the first step in acquiring political wisdom.
Here's an angry Register editorial on the subject. Lesson? No private company should ever again ask for or accept a handout from the government. Fat chance!