Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bailing Out The Things We Need

I think that I have finally figured out the Congressional thinking on the penchant for government bailouts, and strangely enough the connection came to mind while watching an old Steve Martin movie, "The Jerk".

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot of this engaging little comedy, it is a 1979 Rob Reiner movie that follows the life of Navin R. Johnson, a white man adopted as a child by a southern black family. Johnson is an innocent and mostly clueless individual who blissfully stumbles through life until almost by accident becoming rich and famous by creating a ridiculous handle for eyeglasses called the "opti-grab". 

Unfortunately for our hero, his fame and riches are short-lived however, when it's discovered that his invention causes the people who use it to become cross-eyed. Naturally he is sued, and in the settlement our intrepid inventor loses everything that he owns. Despondent, he turns to drinking and begins a personal spiral downward. It is at that low point that we join Navin, as he decides to walk away from everything in his life, taking only what he deems necessary to survive.

"And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this." he says, picking up an ashtray. "I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair."

There it is in a nutshell folks ... Congressional thinking on solutions to the current financial crisis!

All we need to do is bail out the Wall Street firm Bear Sterns and that's it... oh and Goldman Sachs, we need to bail them out too, but that's all. Wait, we need to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac too, but just the the two Wall Street firms and the two mortgage groups ... oh and their insurance company AIG, but that's it. Just Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, Fannie and Freddie, and AIG need to be bailed out and that's all for sure. And the other banks, we need to bail them out too. But that's it, just the Wall Street firms, Fannie and Freddie, AIG, and the banks ... oh and the Big 3 of the auto industry. We need to bail them out too, but that's it. We just need to bail out Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs, Fannie, and Freddie, AIG, the banks, GM, Ford, and Chrysler; but that's all we need to bail out...

And once again, the truth proves to be even stranger than fiction. Once more we find ourselves confronting a reality far more ridiculous than the anything ever produced in Hollywood. Isn't it sad (and sadly fitting), that our elected leaders can be summed up so completely by a fictional character of no intelligence and little common sense? Isn't it amazing that our government's solution to what may be the most critical problem of our age seems to be coming out of a slapstick comedy from almost 30 years ago? Don't laugh through your tears too quickly yet my friends. It is after all, your money that they are using to make these bailouts and it appears that Congress hasn't made it completely out the door yet. I wouldn't be surprised if they found a couple of more things that they "need" to add before they finally walk away. 



Hooda Thunkit said...


There ya go using a Steve Martin analogy to deride our government.

On second thought, you're still looking on the bright side ;-)


Tim Higgins said...


It's easier to look on the bright side from the outside. This week I am working my way through the southern US. I am currently in Savannah, GA and on my way to St Augustine, FL, temperatures in the 70's.