I’ve been waiting for several weeks now for Treasury Secretary Paulson to call me to ask for my ideas on how to save the U.S. economy. I know the man is very busy and all, but all I’d need is about half an hour.
It may surprise you to know that people frequently ask me for financial advice. For example, just yesterday I was involved in a significant financial transaction and the person I was dealing with asked if I preferred to receive my change as a $10 bill or as two fives. I shrewdly asked for the two fives on the theory that two bills are better than one, a response that pretty much captures the general caliber of my financial acumen and helps explain why my kids are going to college under assumed names.
When he does finally call me, I’ll offer Secretary Paulson a couple of sure-fire remedies to cure the nation’s economic ills. First off, I’ll remind him to be sure to pick up the free toasters when he buys a new bank.
And speaking of banks and giving stuff away, instead of pumping all that money into banks, why not pump some of it into the Seattle Mariners? If the Mariners were a better team, there would be more fans at their games, more food and beverages would be sold, and more people would be having fun instead of withdrawing their life savings and hiding it under their mattresses or burying it in a coffee can in their backyards.
But if the U.S. Treasury is unwilling to offer the Mariners a federal bail-out package, then maybe they should at least invest in the mattress-and-shovel business so we can profit from those who are choosing to go with less traditional banking systems. To capture some additional income from the “Bed & Bury” market segment, how about starting up a Federal Cash in the Mattress or Back Yard Coffee Can Insurance Corp. (FCITMOBYCCIC). FCITMOBYCCIC could charge mattress and coffee can “depositors” a premium to insure their ‘deposits,” and then invest those premiums in lottery tickets. Preferably, China’s state lottery.
To alleviate the very real suffering of those unfortunate many who have lost or are losing their homes to foreclosures, I propose that they be allowed to stay rent free in the home (or homes) of any investment banker or hedge-fund manager (whatever that is) who profited from the sale of sub-prime backed securities or credit debt swaps (whatever those are).
I’ve got lots of other ideas for the secretary if he’d just return my calls: A White House yard sale. Congressional lemonade stands. Federal casinos called Uncle Sam’s Clubs. Slot machines in the Post Office. Optional scratch-and-sniff lottery games on the front of all IRS income tax forms.
And with regard to our national parks, national forests, and important government buildings, monuments and memorials, I have just two words to say: Naming Rights. How does the Poulon Weedeater Chef Boy-ar-Dee Fritos Lincoln Memorial sound? The Washington Warner Brothers PacTel Pop Tarts Monument. Or Yellowstone National Kodak Kawasaki Snowmobile and Winnebago Park?
The economic crisis has even hit the nonprofit land conservation organization for which I work, if you can call it “work.” We’ve all been asked to tighten our belts a little. Because I’m a team player, I have temporarily suspended my campaign of looting the supply closet and will no longer be trading in purloined office supplies on the pencil, paper clip and Post-it black markets. No need to thank me. Uncertain times call for uncertain leadership, and that’s one thing, perhaps the only thing, we seem to have in spades at the moment.
While I’m not a student of history, I believe it was during the Great Depression of 1429 that President Benjamin Franklin Delano Rockefeller (known to his friends as “’Teddy”) said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I fear that he was wrong. I fear we have plenty to fear. And so my best advice to Secretary Paulson is be thankful for what we’ve got, vote for Barack Obama, and don’t let Halliburton get it’s hands on any of that bail-out money.
Islander Tom Tyner is an attorney
for the Trust for Public Land. He is author
of “Skeletons From Our Closet,”
a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.