Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The United States Of China

It has come to my attention, by way of people having more free time to panic in the streets during normal business hours, that the economy is coming to an end. This is being conveyed to us by grim-faced news anchors delivering important reports about politicians deeply concerned over business owners freaking out. Apparently people making $7.50 an hour are supposed to somehow care when people whose annual income starts at $300,000 suddenly start losing millions of dollars, instead of asking the obvious questions, like: "Where do these people get millions of dollars to lose?" "Are we supposed to be concerned that they can suddenly no longer afford the fourth mansion they were going to buy for their wife's chihuahua?" and "Have fun eating generic Macaroni & Cheese every night! Ha ha!"

The middle class has never really understood how the economy works; we just always assumed the economy existed, somewhere up in the sky, where it looked down upon us and answered our prayers. We would go to work every day to earn money, and we would deposit that money into a bank, and we would withdraw that money when we wanted to buy something. The value of the dollar was determined by the amount of gold the government kept stockpiled. That is all we needed to know.

Of course, this was unacceptable after banks realized there weren't nearly enough abstract concepts involved to keep the middle class thoroughly confused, so banks invented credit. Now, if you want to buy something expensive like a car or a house or gasoline, instead of waiting for a family member to die and pass theirs on to you, you can buy it with money you don't actually have based on how interesting the bank finds you. The government still has gold stockpiled, but now our economy is based on how confident people are that our country has more money than any other country.

Despite the fact that nobody understood anything anybody said about the economy, we were assured that everything would be fine as long as no one pays any attention to it. This idea worked great for several decades until the Liberal News Media started dedicating entire cable channels to scaring the middle class with reports on things like the stock market and investment bankers and all of our jobs going overseas. All of a sudden, people started hearing about the economy, and this frightened them because they had cut economics class in high school to smoke weed behind the auto shop building.

Back in the mid-Nineties, or maybe the mid-Eighties, or the upper-Thirties, or the Cretaceous Period, the stock market was deregulated. No one is really sure whose fault this was, but everybody can agree that it was definitely not them. Somewhere along the line, one of our politicians decided that rich people would be responsible with our money if there were no laws governing them, and that politician managed to convince others that rich people are in no way greedy. This directly led to the criminal indictments of many rich people for being irresponsible with our money because they were greedy.

As a result of the deregulation, banks started approving mortgages for anybody who applied, regardless of whether they had collateral, money, jobs, social security numbers, or were in fact dogs. These were called "adjustable rate mortgages," which literally meant that the bank could adjust the rate of the mortgage to any amount they wanted. Suddenly the borrowers found themselves owing upwards of $137 million per month, which they couldn't seem to pay. Totally unprepared for such an unexpected event, many of the banks collapsed. In a controversial move, the government gave the banks $700 billion dollars to pay their CEOs' yearly bonuses.

Then the auto industry failed because their business strategy hinged on making cars that no one wanted to buy, and they requested a massive government bailout package on the grounds that the banks got one for being financially inept, and so should they. So the auto industry got their bailout package, and so will every other corporation in America until we officially become the United States of China. However, individual consumers are not eligible to receive a bailout package because we are expected to be responsible with our money.

We need to be concerned about the plight of the rich, though, because they have vowed that, if they go down, they're taking everyone else with them. So when Sally Struthers asks you to open your heart and your wallet against a backdrop of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," please donate whatever you can. Remember, you can feed a starving Wall Street investor for only the price of a midsize sedan a day.

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