Friday, October 10, 2008

“Bailout Bandwagon”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

“I'll tip my hat to the new constitution / Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around / Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday /Then I'll get on my knees and pray / We don't get fooled again”

- From ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who

We were deep in the dark hours of night. Everyone in the Icehouse had drifted away, into slumber. Even our Pomeranian, Quigley, lay snoring at the foot of our bed. Yet the moment was restless. Over and again, I counted patterns in the ceiling. Minutes seemed to dribble by, ever slower with each hour.

Finally, I surrendered. Restful sleep was not to be had, at this late hour.

While everyone slumbered, I took a seat at the computer. A cup of Earl Grey tea was my only companion in the night. Through the darkness, Internet news sites continued to buzz about the financial crisis on Wall Street. But after clicking through several pages of punditry and analysis, I had still failed to locate an honest explanation. With so many professional representatives on duty… how had we fallen into harm’s way? And what could we do to solve the problem? Like millions of Americans, I pondered these questions in the shadowy stillness.

Only one solution appeared from the chaos – to join the crowd, and strike a bargain of my own.

Quietly, I began to compose a letter to my neighborhood lender:

To: Countrywide Borough Bank
Re: Bailout Plan

Dear CBB,

In recent days, I have watched with much interest as our government has struggled to craft a bailout plan for your industry. Because the preservation of our monetary system is of great importance, I feel that my own natural aversion to such arbitrary intervention must be turned aside in favor of supporting the common good. Like most Americans, I am praying for your survival, despite misgivings about spending prodigious amounts of money to keep your financial repositories afloat.

As House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi observed: “When was the last time someone asked you for seven-hundred billion dollars? It is a number that is staggering.”

Having accepted this national need as being genuine, let me now observe that it seems only fair to implement this performance model at all levels. Therefore, I am making my own specific request for funds.

While it is true that my personal appetite for books, vinyl records, guitars, and vintage collectibles has had a negative impact on my household bottom line, I feel that a direct correlation between these habits and my lack of spending capital can't be drawn with certainty. Many other factors have been involved here including the escalating price of fuel, food, and in particular, a general tendency of goods on eBay to be tempting beyond their actual value. This discrepancy has had a long-term dampening effect on my net worth that needs to be addressed, immediately.

Because our government is founded on democratic principles, I believe that ordinary citizens are no less important than the greatest of our institutions.

Therefore, please credit the amount of forty thousand dollars to my account. I reckon that this infusion of cash will suffice to put my household budget in order.

The immediate result of your action will be to make it possible for me to purchase more goods and services during the remainder of 2008. My personal spending is bound to have a positive effect on the local economy, which will benefit everyone.

I ask that you approve this request promptly, to avoid further damage to my credit rating.

As Senator Barack Obama has said: “"We cannot only have a plan for Wall Street. We must also help Main Street.”

Thanks for your prompt attention in this matter.

Regards, RDI

By the time I’d finished writing, my wife was awake. She peered at the computer screen with tired eyes. “Why are you up so early?”

My sleepy grin made her puzzled. “I’m composing a letter.”

“A… what?” she whispered.

“A letter,” I repeated. While making her a fresh cup of Chai tea, I read it aloud.

“Dear Countrywide Borough Bank…”

She was stunned by the document.

After a pause, I continued. “Should I have said anything else?”

She coughed noisily. “No, that’s quite enough, I think!”

“We’ve got to get on board with this plan,” I said. “The train is leaving. We don’t want to be left behind.”

There was another pause as Liz blinked with disbelief. “You’re actually going to send that to our bank?”

I nodded in affirmation. “Absolutely!”

She frowned in response. “Forty thousand dollars? Are you serious?”

“That’s pocket change for the President of CBB,” I replied. “Thanks to the Federal bailout, they’ve got plenty of ‘moolah’ to work with. It would set us up nicely for the immediate future…”

My wife went red. “Rodney, please!! Our politicians are showing remarkable courage in dealing with this crisis, wouldn’t you say?”

“Courage isn’t demonstrated by spending other people’s money,” I snorted. “Courage would have come from preventing this debacle instead of repeating partisan platitudes until the system fell apart.”

She was out of breath. “What happened to your philosophy of self-reliance? None of this gives you an excuse to look for a check of your own!”

“I’m talking about participating in the exercise, at a grassroots level,” I explained.

Her voice began to tremble. “Go ahead, get up on your soapbox…”

“Think about it,” I continued. “As citizens of the republic, we deserve assistance. It’s our money, after all. We are the taxpayers. Everything ultimately begins and ends with the voters in charge. This minor outlay of funds would keep us solvent for a long time. Eventually, we’d be able to cover our obligations and get back on course…”

“I don’t think they’ll accept your logic,” she chirped.

I paused for dramatic effect. “So then, why does it make sense when we’re talking about an entire industry instead of a single household?”

Liz groaned. “Well… we’ve got to do something!”

Silently, I bowed my head.

“Well?” she squealed. “Don’t we need to act??”

“Yes,” I said. “But… action comes with a price. We’ve spent months hearing about the ‘change’ coming to Washington. Hope. New leadership. New ideas. A new vision.”

She was confused. “That’s correct, Mr. Wordsmith. So, what’s your point?”

My eyes narrowed with reflection. “This is another example of ‘business as usual’ on Capitol Hill. ‘We the people’ are stuck paying for a mess we didn’t create. And the deal is authorized by Democrats and Republicans, alike.”

“Yeah,” my wife agreed. “Same as it ever was…”

“So,” I concluded. “Where do you find ‘change’ in that equation?”

Without another word, Liz left the room with her tea.

Our conversation was over!

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