AIG, Merrill, Lehman: If your company is tanking, is it riskier to stay or bail?

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Yesterday was Keiro-no-hi in Japan, or Respect for the Elderly Day. It’s a national holiday, which means the press, too, gets a day off. The entire press corps of the entire country goes to the beach. With Obaachan and Ojiichan. It’s nice, isn’t it? Because it means that no matter what happens in the world, there is absolutely no news reported that day in any newspaper, because there are no newspapers.

So I had to learn from my CNN-addicted geezer of a dad (at our house, every day is No Respect for the Elderly Day) that the world is imploding. Lehman, the company whose headquarters sit across 50th Street from TIME’s; Merrill Lynch, where my sister-in-law works; AIG, where my younger brother has been employed since he graduated from college. All these firms are in various stages of shrieking, agonizing, horror-movie strangulation.

On the phone with my brother Ken, my Pop begged him to stick it out no matter what. “It’s a tough company,” he pleaded. Not that Ken is planning to jump ship. But it got me to thinking. For a guy who left the U.S. in his 20s and made his own way in Japan with no skills or contacts or capital, our dad is heavily averse to job risk. He urged us all to land jobs with large firms, and, when we did, to hang on like burrs.

What about you? Would you—or have you—bailed on an Enron before it hit the ocean floor…or wished you had?