The price that needs to be paid to get the economy moving again or the bill for the age of irresponsibility? You pays your money - and, boy, do you pay your money - and you makes your choice.
Those are the competing soundbites to describe the latest government bank rescue plan. In truth, the choice available is rather less stark since the Tories broadly back this plan. Their row with the government focuses on the need for and affordability of the fiscal stimulus - taxes and spending in other words - and how on earth we got in this mess in the first place.
What is clear, though, is that the prize in politics will go to those who can describe a future for the British economy which does not depend on ever-expanding banks lending ever larger sums to Russian oligarchs. Peter Mandelson made that point in rather more diplomatic language in a speech at the weekend.
That makes Ken Clarke's appointment so fascinating. He's by instinct hostile to London, keener on manufacturing than banking and loves a scrap. Labour will hope to present a 68-year-old who doesn't own a mobile and wears Hush Puppies as more in touch with the past than the future.
Then there is the small matter of Europe. Is greater integration a vital part of its future or irrelevant to it?
Politics will soon focus on who can get us through this hostile environment. Talking of which, I am rather inconveniently spending the week away training to deal with just that in war zones around the world - so normal service may be interrupted a little.