— English folk poem, ca. 1764
They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.
Lemon socialism is a pejorative term for a form of government intervention in which government subsidies go to weak or failing firms, often with the intent of preventing further, systemic damage to what might otherwise be considered a free marketplace. When these subsidies take the form of a full or partial bail-out, as happened during the 2008 financial crisis, they may be seen as a form of state or crony capitalism. The pejorative comes from the perception among laissez-faire capitalists that failing companies are defective lemons that a working free market would replace with better-functioning companies in response to market demand, and the public-sector involvement this type of state intervention shares with socialism. Lemon socialism is not actually socialism: a marketplace still exists, even if that marketplace is not completely free.Wikipedia
Confusingly, lemon socialism may also refer to government efforts to transition from capitalism to actual socialism; in this case it refers to a deliberate strategy of absorbing the losses entailed in saving jobs within the worst-performing sectors of the economy — the lemons — before the nationalization of more profitable industries.
"I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. … You are a den of vipers and thieves."- Andrew Jackson in 1834 on closing the Second Bank of the United States