5. For GM, Every Day Is a Tax-Free Day!

What a week for General Motors (GM) - Get Report. The failed automaker charged back onto the scene after being delisted by the NYSE a year and a half ago with an IPO price that just kept going up and up, topping it all off by closing its first day of trading up 3.6% to $34.19.

The offering's total value should be about $23.2 billion, including $18.2 billion from the sale of common stock and $5 billion from selling preferred stock. A big beneficiary of the offering is the federal government, which should take in about $13.6 billion as it sells the majority of its shares, reducing its ownership in the company from 61% to 33%.

It's a win all around, largely because the government made sure it was by simply disregarding years of precedent in bankruptcy and taxation law.

Yup, that's right. Unlike, say -- oh, any other company that declares bankruptcy -- the government has allowed the newly created GM to

assume the benefit of tax losses from the old GM

. As Jeffrey Coyne, senior lecturing fellow at the Duke University School of Law and a management consultant who specializes in reorganizing troubled companies, told

TheStreet

in June 2009, "You can't form new GM, which has never transacted business before, and sell the assets (of existing GM) and then sell the net tax benefit to the new company," Coyne said. "And as far as I can tell, the NOL is not a saleable asset." An NOL, or net operating loss, ,can be used as a tax loss carry forward, an accounting technique that allows it to be applied to future profits to reduce tax liability.

Not surprisingly, the government employed some slick legalese to work around such details that, as the

WSJ

put it in a Nov. 3 article, put a "final gift in

GM's trunk." And now, according to federal filings, GM won't have to pay $45.4 billion in taxes on future profits thanks to the carry forward.

So that's one failed company, bailed out by taxpayer money, and then excused from paying taxes for who knows how many years. How do we get into this car-making business again?

TheStreet Says: Let's see: $45.5 billion, divided by every man, woman and child in America ... that's about $150 each. Think they'll let us deduct that from the purchase of our new Chevy Cruze?

>> 4. Bank Execs: 2 Wrongs = Right

>> 3. American Airlines to Passengers: Drink Up; It'll Make It Easier

>> 2. UK Puts Health Policy in Unhealthiest Hands

>> 1. Buffett Gives Thanks

>> Take Our Poll: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb Wall Street stories?

4. Bank Execs: 2 Wrongs = Right

Bank executives have spent this week fessing up the problems in the foreclosure processes, Well, sort of.

Congressional hearings on the mortgage and foreclosure mess have offered up a parade of bank executives explaining why their processes aren't pervasively and systematically flawed. You see, they're human, just like you and me, and they did

not

hastily throw together divisions to handle the mess they helped create.

Except that, well, they did.

Take

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, which

may have to refile thousands of foreclosure documents, a managing director told Congress on Thursday.

In prepared testimony for a House subcommittee, Harold Lewis, a managing director at CitiMortgage, said the bank will probably have to refile all affidavits executed before the fall of 2009. It's currently reviewing about 14,000 affidavits processed more recently.

OK, so some of those may not have been signed in the presence of a notary, according to Lewis. And others may be affected by the practice of robosigning -- when an employee signs off on hundreds or thousands of documents without properly verifying the information within. And yes, alright, there are

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

, which temporarily halted foreclosure proceedings in judicial states while they reviewed hundreds of thousands of affidavits that may have flaws. And if you want to get all picky about it, yes,

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

has indicated that 55,000 documents had to be refilled, though it hasn't stopped processing foreclosures. Regulators and all 50 state attorneys general are also investigating banks' foreclosure processes.

So ... not to say that there weren't, you know,

problems

.

On Tuesday, David Lowman, who heads JPMorgan's mortgage division,

made a tacit admission before Congress that employees "may have" signed affidavits without personally verifying the information.

>>>Foreclosure Crisis: What Bank Execs Say

In regards to the foreclosure-affidavit issues, Lowman evoked a sentiment similar to that of his boss,

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, and other top bank officials. He was firm about whether Chase was correct in foreclosing upon the properties, even if there were documentation errors. He noted that in Chase's average foreclosure case, the borrower hasn't made a payment for 14 months and that a "significant" portion of the homes are vacant or not primary residences for the borrowers. Nonetheless, JPMorgan did halt foreclosure proceedings in 23 judicial states because of the robosigning scandal.

To be fair, banking officials have ponied up ample evidence to support claims that they are taking sometimes extraordinary measure to keep people in their homes, and should be commended for doing so. Still, the common talking point among banking executives is that because owners

were

in default it doesn't matter that our processes for initiating foreclosures were about as refined as allowing a roomful of rhesus monkeys to stamp "FORECLOSED" on a stack of papers in their cage.

"Our process was not what it should have been," said Lowman. "Quite simply, it did not live up to our standards."

TheStreet Says: Uhhhh....

what

standards?

>> 5. For GM, Every Day Is a Tax-Free Day!

>> 3. American Airlines to Passengers: Drink Up; It'll Make It Easier

>> 2. UK Puts Health Policy in Unhealthiest Hands

>> 1. Buffett Gives Thanks

>> Take Our Poll: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb Wall Street stories?

3. American Airlines to Passengers: Drink Up; It'll Make It Easier

The airline industry has spent the last 15 years destroying the once romantic vision of air travel. ("Here's your salted peanuts, prole. Now shut up and try not to get sick or die during the flight, because we hate that.") But even they must be surprised at how the TSA has take the ball and run with it. With a total-body scan or an intimate frisk on offer for anyone looking to travel (seriously, if you're going to run your hand up and down on our inner thigh four times, and least buy us a drink first), the TSA may have driven the final nail into the airline industry's coffin.

But never fear,

American Airlines

(AMR)

has come up with the only possible solution: cheaper drinks.

"As we wrap up the year, we want to show our customers that we appreciate their business," said Rob Friedman, vice president of marketing for American. And so, starting Dec. 1, passengers on domestic, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico flights departing between 5 p.m. and 5:59 p.m. will be able to buy cocktails, wine and beer for $5. That represents a savings of $1 on beer and $2 on liquor and wine.

Wow. Golly. That's really special. No, really, thank you....

Honestly, while we appreciate the sentiment, what we'd really like to see are fewer delays and maybe, oh just maybe, one of the airlines could speak up on the behalf of customers when it comes to invasive TSA searches. It would be nice to see fewer

reports of three-year-olds getting patted down like they're Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

, and cheaper alcoholic drinks aren't likely to do anything for that.

And truth be told, lowering the drink prices is really just going to unnecessarily hurt your margins. It's a captive audience. On a good day at the airport, travelers are so frazzled by the time they board that they'd gladly cough up $20 for even a watered-down Tom Collins -- or maybe a ball peen hammer to repeatedly whack themselves in the head in hopes of purging the experience from their brains.

Regardless, it's comforting to know that American Airlines is meeting the tough issues of the day head on -- with its version of a flying happy hour. And boozing up passengers for the holidays is, rest assured, just what traveling families are looking for.

TheStreet Says: Can we just have the free pillows and blankets back, please?

>> 5. For GM, Every Day Is a Tax-Free Day!

>> 4. Bank Execs: 2 Wrongs = Right

>> 2. UK Puts Health Policy in Unhealthiest Hands

>> 1. Buffett Gives Thanks

>> Take Our Poll: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb Wall Street stories?

2. UK to Obese Citizens: You're Fat ... Here's a McRib

The United Kingdom's department of health is embarking on an overhaul of government policies on issues health-related issues such as obesity and alcohol. And who better to write that government policy than the companies that contribute to those problems the most?

According to a series of articles from

The Guardian

published earlier this week, companies such as

Pepsi

(PEP) - Get Report

,

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

and

Yum! Brands'

(YUM) - Get Report

KFC have been invited to help craft the government's health policy.

The five groups set up to address certain areas are "dominated by food and alcohol industry members" and are being given the opportunity to "draft priorities and identify barriers, such as EU legislation, that they would like removed."

The fox guarding the hen house? More like the drug dealer guarding the crack house.

The idea being put forth by the U.K.'s new controlling Conservative party is that behavior should not be dictated by legislation. Even here in the states, the liberal mayor of San Francisco couldn't get behind legislation banning toys from unhealthy meals, a measure he vetoed earlier in the week.

Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, wrote on

TheAtlantic.com

that

she hoped the Guardian's headlines were taken from The Onion

. Unfortunately, no.

"You want to see food politics in action? Watch what is happening in Britain since the conservative government of David Cameron took over," wrote Nestle.

The U.K.'s policy makers say they are hoping to nudge consumers into better choices rather than resorting to legislation. Unfortunately when it comes to epidemics, like obesity and diabetes, a nudge isn't enough -- especially when it's a nudge into the line at KFC.

TheStreet Says: What would that Onion headline read? Perhaps "Area British Man to Try New Soda and Fried Chicken Diet."

>> 5. For GM, Every Day Is a Tax-Free Day!

>> 4. Bank Execs: 2 Wrongs = Right

>> 3. American Airlines to Passengers: Drink Up; It'll Make It Easier

>> 1. Buffett Gives Thanks

>> Take Our Poll: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb Wall Street stories?

1. Buffett Gives Thanks

Warren Buffet, perched in his capitalist throne as CEO of

Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.B) - Get Report

, has been a benevolent emperor, and on Wednesday he was nice enough to send a thank you note to Uncle Sam for saving the economy back in 2008. Of course, it took two years for the note to arrive.

And when he did finally decided to send the note he didn't actually send it to Uncle Sam directly. Instead, it went via the

New York Times

, before Buffett set out on the usual round of television interviews.

The timing of the thank you was, uh, interesting. The markets were clearly descending into panic mode this week -- and the worst of the fears lead to all three major market indexes sinking on Tuesday -- so it was about time for Buffett's calming voice to once again fill the sanity void and tell investors to keep buying stocks, which he told them to keep doing.

>>Dear Warren Buffett, You're Too Polite

Indeed, what with major debate on QE2, tax policy, and more generally, an assault on government spending, a skeptic might look upon a thank you note sent to Uncle Sam as a less than spontaneous idea from a man invested to the hilt in the markets. With the Republicans set to overtake Congress, and pesky issues like financial reform and that derivatives portion of the bill due for another round of scrutiny, it might be nice to have some friends on Capitol Hill, wouldn't it?

It may be understandable why Buffett feels the need to play both sides of the divide in Washington. While thanking Ben Bernanke for his courageous leadership in the letter and then chiding him for a dubious QE2 policy on TV, you can't forget that the longer the Fed takes to rule on Goldman Sachs' plan to pay you back the $5 billion borrowed from Berkshire Hathaway, the more money you make -- $15 a second, according to estimates.

Meanwhile, on the same day Buffett's letter was "delivered," President Obama announced that Buffett would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S. Warren, why didn't you just say that's what you were after? Congratulations -- and send Obama a thank you note when you have a chance.

TheStreet Says: Then again, he's just so cuddly-looking! It's impossible to stay mad at the man!

>> 5. For GM, Every Day Is a Tax-Free Day!

>> 4. Bank Execs: 2 Wrongs = Right

>> 3. American Airlines to Passengers: Drink Up; It'll Make It Easier

>> 2. UK Puts Health Policy in Unhealthiest Hands

>> Take Our Poll: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb Wall Street stories?

In light of all this dumbness, we now ask you: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb stories? Take the poll below to see what

TheStreet

has to say.

>> 5. For GM, Every Day Is a Tax-Free Day!

>> 4. Bank Execs: 2 Wrongs = Right

>> 3. American Airlines to Passengers: Drink Up; It'll Make It Easier

>> 2. UK Puts Health Policy in Unhealthiest Hands

>> 1. Buffett's Belated Thanks

>> Take Our Poll: Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb Wall Street stories?

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.