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Market Condition: Critical!

Wednesday, 19 Nov 2008 | 10:38 PM ET

You could hear the screams on Wall Street (and perhaps a few sighs of relief that the bloodletting was over -- for today at least) when the Dow closed down 427 points -- to a level BELOW 8,000 for the first time in over five years. The market's in "critical condition," says Cramer, and likens it to a "hospital emergency room."

And who are the ER patients? "On one side you have Citigroup , Bank of America , Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley . On the other side it's Chrysler, Ford and General Motors ."

And with a finite amount of resources, it's impossible for the doctors (that'd be the Treasury and the Fed) to save them all, even though they're doing the best they can. The best that can be done is "triage."

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The "disassembling" Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson did put out his hat for more money, but he gave the money to the banks, "the ones who created all of the problems by propagating a tremendous $3 trillion worth of problem mortgages that never should have been made." Cramer also notes that money hasn't stopped the banks from being "crushed."

As for the other group of "patients," the car-makers Chrysler, Ford -- which traded at $1.26 at one point today! -- and GM, well it doesn't look likely that they'll get the help they need anytime soon.

Cramer adds that the auto industry wouldn't need as much money to be bailed out as what the banks got, and would offer "more bang for the buck" to the overall economy. A whole lot more Americans work in or depend on the auto industry than those bailed-out financial institutions. "Maybe millions," says Cramer. "Not just the tens of thousands who work and are heavily overpaid on Wall Street."

The path to a healthy economy wouldn't be pretty -- it'd be necessary to "give as much [money] as you can" but at the same time taking it away from "anyone who hoards it" (hint: he's talking about Wall Street again). Withholding aid from the automakers, however, would be punishment just for the sake of punishment and wouldn't fix the economy -- in fact, the number of job losses might "overwhelm the system and probably cause a Great Depression."

And if the "doctors" are going to act, they'd better do it NOW, instead of waiting for the Obama administration to act. By then, "it will be too late."

Bottom line: "Both the autos and the bankers must be saved -- the money spread around to as many people as possible -- and if that means forcing banks that accept federal help to slash their dividends and bonuses, or wiping out the common stock of the automakers, that's fine by me, as long as we keep the businesses running, the patients alive and stop the bleeding."

Questions for Cramer? madmoney@cnbc.com

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GM
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