The Great Grade Bailout

There is a great inequity in justice in our public school systems.  I refer, of course, to the fact that some students have higher grades than others.  This can only be the result of institutional disenfranchisement, and must be corrected by government intervention.  Besides, our nation’s future faces catastrophic academic failure if we don’t artificially prop it up now.

By which I mean, the failing students need a bailout.

All of those kids who are only half as likely to do any kind of studying or homework as they are to even show up at all will be granted a special dispensation from the Department of Education, something in the neighborhood of, say, 800 billion points.  (Though, what with corruption, unforeseen needs, and poor management, that total will likely exceed a trillion points.)

So every slacker who sat there and chose to finish a class with a 2% grade will now get to graduate, which is perfectly fair.  Uncle Sam will guarantee the success of every student in America.  After all, what with the obesity epidemic, most American kids are “too big to fail.”

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A Bailout Lesson From The Past

Two days after the nationwide tea party protests, I’m sitting in an office waiting to be called up to the window.  As I pass the time reading, I come across this, during a conversation about hypothetically bailing out failing banks:

“But there’s no reason why any bank should do what you suggest, it never has in the past.  Each bank stands or falls on its own merits, that’s the joy of our free enterprise system.  Such a scheme as you propose would set a dangerous precedent.  It would certainly be impossible to prop up every bank that was mismanaged.”

–James Clavell, Noble House, 1981

Talk About Predatory Lending…

Last week, a good friend of mine intimated that since the bailout craze began last year, foreclosures would actually go up, because greedy banks would realize they could make more money by competing to be the most victimized institutions possible (like someone in a fender bender on a bus who magically gets serious whiplash), than they could by continuing to fight for piddling little mortgage payments with homeowners.

Horror stories about banks artificially jacking up interest rates to the point where people who had been paying on time are now losing their homes are starting to come out of the woodwork.  Apparently, mortgages are chump change compared to bailout bucks. 

And sure enough, my friend’s vindicated.  Consider this story from today’s Review-Journal:

Clark County saw 7,747 homes taken by banks during the month, more than double February’s 3,286 foreclosures and four times the 1,937 in March 2008. The first-quarter total of 13,642 is on pace to shatter last year’s record 31,416 foreclosures in Clark County….

 

Nevada ranks No. 8 in foreclosures nationwide with 26,760 real estate-owned — bank-owned — properties over the past six months….

  

“Hopefully, this is a short-term surge caused by months of delayed foreclosures,” said Alexis McGee, president of Foreclosures.com. “This is a very troubling turn after seeing some bright spots earlier this year.”

 

Several banks had agreed to suspend foreclosures while the Obama administration crafted a plan to modify home mortgages for troubled borrowers.

 

 

 

Is this legitimately a temporary result of a “backlog,” or a disturbing beginning of a new trend to compete for the bottom of the barrel in siphoning off taxpayer dollars?  We’ll just have to compare these numbers to those half a year down the line. 

Behold, the law of unintended consequences.  Or, just some sharks smelling blood in the water…

America’s Finances Stabilize: USA Wins Lottery, Gets Inheritance, Sells Stuff On E-Bay

SATIRE

In the face of staggering, record-breaking trillion-dollar deficits for this year and the foreseeable future, America was understandably worried about its financial future.  Luckily, several unexpected windfalls came up and helped America break even.

“I was all sweating about these bills I got coming up, you know, infrastructure and social security and stuff, but then I got this call and it was like a miracle…I totally won the lottery!” an elated United States told the Associated Press yesterday. 

The fiscally irresponsible country will get $10 billion as a reward for picking the right ticket in a scratch-off lotto from a nearby gas station.  The international superpower will, however, have to share their winnings with two housewives from Omaha, who also picked the winning numbers by playing their children’s birthdays. 

Of course, ten billion dollars hardly covers the debt that America, like many impulsive, short-sighted consumers, has racked up in recent times.  The calls from bill collectors were still troubling the distraught democracy, threatening to repossess the volunteer military and bicameral legislature that it got at the mall when the economy was riding high, but against all odds, the U.S. got another fortuitous surprise.

“My great aunt Agatha died!” said America in the same interview.  Trying not to sound too excited about the demise of a relative, it explained, “She wasn’t really close to anybody else in the family–she and Australia haven’t even spoken in, like, fifty years–but she wanted to leave me her life savings.  I guess she thought I had potential or something.”

Aunt Agatha’s will left a plum $50 billion to the spendthrift republic.  “But there’s a catch,” America said.  “She didn’t want me to blow it all on pork and stuff, so I can’t get it until I can show a balanced budget.” 

Such a task might sound daunting for a country that now throws out the word trillion the way it used to say million, but America now sounds more confident.  “I have a plan.  I’ve been saving up my old baseball cards for a rainy day, and I’m totally gonna sell them on E-Bay for, like, a hundred trillion bucks.  Dude, I’ve got a Daryl Strawberry rookie card.  Seriously.”

 

NOTE: The joke being, if our financial woes aren’t solved this way, then what exactly do we expect to happen?  Isn’t this actually the most realistic hope we have?  Also, I liked comparing America to a dumb kid who needs an adult to help it pay the rent, and this time’s the last time, honestly.  I had a really good interview at Burger King, so I’m totally gonna have a job next month!

Blame Enough To Go Around

So the passage of President Obama’s stimulus package–the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009–has passed, to the tune of $789 billion, and fiscal conservatives around the country are howling mad.  “Tea Party” protests are sweeping the nation.  One blog post I happened across this week featured a graphic of a tombstone for the United States, giving the “death” date as November 4, 2008, the day of Obama’s election.  (You’re late, by the way–I had the same idea months ago.) 

But is that really the day that history will remember as the tipping point towards financial ruin for our republic?  Did Obama suddenly come in and drastically change course for the government, or is he just continuing business as usual? 

Or better yet…where were all those tea party protests before now? 

Where were the protests on October 3, 2008, when the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ($700 billion) was signed into law?  Shouldn’t that be the date on the tombstone? 

Where were the protests on September 30, 2008, when the “Big Three” automakers got a $25 billion loan? 

Where was the coordinated network of national protests on September 16, 2008, when the Federal Reserve gave insurance giant AIG a $75 billion bailout?

Where were the fiscal conservatives rising up and demanding results on July 30, 2008, when the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 ($300 billion) became law? 

So if we’re going to become especially indignant about Obama’s “porkulus” package, we’re very much a conservative pot calling a liberal kettle black.

Bailout Metaphor From The Simpsons

bios_townspeople_wiggumSo the latest in the snowballing bailout boondoggle is Uncle Sam’s new stake in Bank of America, to the tune of $20 billion. 

A great recent essay in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the long overdue movie version of Atlas Shrugged is now moot because it’s actually playing out before our eyes, but I have another comparison.

So the government thinks it can spend its way out of reckless debt?  There was a season five episode of The Simpsons called “Homer the Vigilante,” at the end of which a group of Springfield residents find themselves stuck at the bottom of a deep hole they’ve dug in the ground.  Desperate to get out, Homer comes to the rescue with this brilliant idea: “We’ll dig our way out!”  So they start shovelling with renewed vigor. 

But the real punchline comes a minute later when, irritated by the lack of progress around him, police chief Wiggum tells everybody, “No, you have to dig up, stupid!” 

And isn’t that what the government’s really trying to do here?  Dig up? 

Good luck with that.

SATIRE: Telegraph, Railroad, And Steamboat Companies Demand Government Bailout

Washington D.C., A Few Generations Ago–Leading executives from America’s major communications and transportation endeavors are converging on the floor of the Capitol today to plea for federal bailout money from Congress to prop up their flailing enterprises.

A spokesman for AT&T–American Telephone and Telegraph–laid out his case for receiving government assistance to the tune of, say, $14 billion.  “The telegraph industry is suffering a severe economic drought.  If the taxpayers don’t pony up and help us ensure the ongoing stability of the telegraph…the telegraph industry may collapse.  Do you realize what a catastrophic emergency that would be?!”

Representatives from Central Pacific Railroad and the Mississippi Delta Steamboat Company also made their case to elected officials for the critical need to immediately inject gobs of fluid funding into their bankrupt institutions.  “These are American jobs we’re talking about here, people,” they read from a prepared joint statement, getting emotional.  “America needs our businesses to continue operating, and to continue operating exactly the way they always have.  If Congress doesn’t approve a bailout for us, how many good, honest, hard working Americans will be permanently out of work?  After all, nothing could ever come along to replace those jobs.  Railroads and steamboats are all we’ll ever have.  And our stocks have dipped sharply recently.  C’mon, America!  We absolutely need to keep the railroad and steamboat stocks up.  Without them, the future will surely be a barren wasteland.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by several other major American conglomerations of industry.  In fact, when one Senator suggested that some businesses might get a bailout and others wouldn’t, a fistfight broke out between the officers of two of America’s most permanent pillars of stability: Horse and Buggy Franchises and Confederated Slave Holdings. 

 

NOTE: Obviously I wrote this in a hurry, not doing any of the research the idea deserves.  Please excuse the lack of rigorous historicity.  Still, I think the point is pretty clear.