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Are such actions signs that socialism will save capitalism, as Ralph Nader and other anti-business critics have suggested? No, but as bailed-out institutions like Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America and JPMorgan (JPM) reduce small-business lending -- by $12.5 billion since April and $1 billion in November alone, according to the Treasury -- communities and social networks are increasingly deciding for themselves which institutions are too big to fail.

In the Pink Tea Cup's case, the only thing "big" about it are its portions of chicken and waffles. Tucked away in a residential section a block and a half from boisterous Sheridan Square in Manhattan, the Pink Tea Cup first dished out its pork chops, barbecued ribs and collard greens in 1954. When Ford put a sign on the door Dec. 3 saying debt would force the Tea Cup to close, it caught the attention of bloggers and, eventually, patrons Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Ezinne Kwubiri and Robert Harmon Jr. With a mix of legal, political and financial backgrounds, the three sent out a press release; set up a blog, Facebook page and PayPal account for donations; and began their "Save Your Soul for $5" campaign.

"I have a fundraising background, so I knew that if you asked people for less, they'll give you more," said Cooper, who is on the junior committee for volunteer group New York Cares and worked with President Barack Obama's campaign during the 2008 election. "In this economy, everyone understands the pain of having to lose something -- be it your house, your car, your education -- because finances won't allow you to do that."

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