Free! Market!

(I don’t think this post has much to do with performance improvement.
Your opinion may differ.)

I just wandered over the the Washington Post website, where I see the feds are “assisting” with the sale of Lehman Brothers.

I’m no economist, but I’ve begun to thing about legally switching my name to “Too Big to Fail.” Despite the potential for ridicule about my appearance, I think that with this right-naming my financial worries would end.

As is so often the case here at the Whiteboard, my idea isn’t new. Indeed, the Lehman news immediately recalled analysis by the noted economist Tom Paxton. It was lagniappe to find Arlo Guthrie singing the once-again apropos Changing My Name To Chrysler.


2 thoughts on “Free! Market!

  1. Dave, personally I’m still trying to figure out how it is that people can get so ANGRY about “welfare queens,” yet be OK with these huge institutions making incredibly bad and risky choices and then getting bailed out. By the time it’s all said and done, between this, Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae and what we’ve spent in Iraq, wealthy men will have made FAR more bad choices and cost us many more billions of dollars than we’ve even remotely spent on helping women and children in crisis.

  2. Michele, “welfare” is another hidden-discrimination term (by which I mean, it has all kinds of different meanings that aren’t obvious on the surface). A report on the Heritage Foundation site (they’re no advocate of welfare) said that medical assistance to low-income persons came to $222 billion in 2000; cash, food, and housing aid came to $167 billion. “Medical assistance” includes Medicaid. Of course, the author says, “By his own report, the typical poor individual is able to obtain medical care for himself and his family; he lives in a home that is in good repair and is not over-crowded.”

    This “typical poor individual” is no doubt taking Bush’s advice and going to the emergency room.

    Alas, to go back to the bank/mortgage/investment debacle, some of these things may in fact be too big to fail — in terms of the consequences for bystanders.

    Foreign ownership of U.S. debt comes to more than $2.6 trillion. I don’t know what the average interest is, but at 4% (which I think is low), this “finance charge” would be another $104 billion added to Uncle Sam’s credit card.

    Our true debt (considering both on-budget and off-budget) increases some $500 billion a year. Roughly half is being financed by foreigners, and when they decide we’re too risky a bet, we’ll have to hope that they see the U.S. as “too big to fail.”

    The welfare queen, as a figure of mythology, is easier to imagine and thus easier to demonize. Far more so than the articulate and well-connected Franklin D. Raines, the former head of Fannie Mae. He was essentially booted out, but retains among other things a pension of $114,000 per month.

    That was after toiling away as CEO for five long years.

    I’m thinking that if I could get appointed CEO and do nothing at all, it’d take the board at least a year to figure out that’s what I was doing. I’d waive my stock options just to have a piddling $20,000 a month.

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