Banks for nothing

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A sincere congratulations to everybody out there who pays taxes in the United States - we just bought an insurance company!

We now own 80 percent of the world's largest insurance company, AIG. They were on the brink of collapse from the mortgage crisis, so last week, George W. Bush and the Federal Reserve effectively nationalized the company, causing a nationwide outbreak of huge newspaper headlines nobody understands. (Oh my god, that giant number is attacking that three-letter acronym!)

And it only cost us - and this is the best news - $85 billion. Well, if it keeps our government from socializing health care, I'm all for it.

But not everyone is pleased with the president's move.

"If your question is should the government bail out private enterprise, the answer is no it shouldn't," said President Bush himself on July 15.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall when those two run into each other in the presidential cafeteria!

Now, the turmoil on Wall Street can be very hard to understand. But there's really only one question that most people care about - how does this affect me? That's what we're here for.

So, how does it affect you? I don't know you. I can only assume that you fit into one of a few broad archetypes, and I'll let you know how the situation affects you in that manner.

For example, you - an average, sixtysomething business executive running a major financial firm, let's call that firm Lehman Brothers. I think you'll be OK. Of course, you'll have to make some cutbacks. Richard Meier's not going to be designing your eighth house, you'll probably have to settle for Norman Foster. Yep, Foster - it's like you work in publishing.

And how does it affect you - a fortysomething Alaskan mother of five? Well, you work a government job in what is technically part of the United States, so you should be OK. The cash crunch won't affect your own state, because oil prices are still more than twice what they were eight years ago.

And for some inexplicable reason, chaos, whether it be economic or military, only enhances your chance for a promotion to an even bigger and better government job. So, congratulations.

And what about you - the financial reporters for a major business network? You were dead wrong about everything leading up to this collapse, and you lost a lot of people a lot of money with your bad advice and your lack of foresight. You should be OK. More camera time equals bigger bucks, so good for you.

But that's all about people. What about our friends in the animal world? For instance, the ring-tailed lemur? I know what you're thinking - surely the Wall Street collapse won't affect me. You're right. Fortunately, you have bigger things to worry about right now. Like predatory falcons.

And lastly there's you - me. You foolishly decided to put all your savings into the prestigious Lehman Brothers investment bank. You're probably wondering if you should have let someone else invest your money for you instead of doing it yourself and just going with the stock with the coolest logo.

But mostly you're still trying to process the knowledge that you will never be able to afford to retire from your job as a basic-cable television host. The only thing that gets you through the show now is that during commercial breaks, no one but the studio audience can see you weep.

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