All the recent talk about the American economy falling into a massive and long-lived recession has me very confused. It’s not that I don’t understand the pain that often accompanies recessions of this magnitude, because I know all too well how hard it is to make ends meet while prices at the grocery store, gun shop and liquor store soar while prices for everything else plummet. No, my confusion stems from the government’s response to this recession. It seems to me that Mr. Hank Paulson and Mr. Ben Bernanke are making things much more difficult than they need to be, and I want to offer to give them a helping hand to dig us out of this recession. Call it my first act of "National Service," for our brave new leaders, if you will.
I first realized that I could be of service to Messrs. Bernanke and Paulson on Wednesday. Mr. Paulson had just finished informing the American people that he was going to single-handedly divert the remainder of the 700 billion dollars that Congress had graciously given him from its intended purpose (buying worthless mortgage debt) in order to buy up securities backed by worthless credit card debt, student loans and auto loans. It is clear that some divine oracle recently visited Mr. Paulson and informed him that the entire U.S. economy will be better served if this money buys up different (though equally worthless) asset-backed securities. If only the rest of us poor hapless Americans had access to this divine economic oracle as well!
As you can imagine, Mr. Paulson had been forced to make a very difficult decision, because Congress had only given him 700 billion dollars. For those of us on "Main Street," I suppose the decision was rather analogous to our having to choose between buying a new pair of work boots or a new winter coat, when we only have 50 dollars in our wallets. If only there were more money in our wallets, we could purchase both items. The same is true for Mr. Paulson as well; if that niggardly and penny-pinching Congress had only given him more money, he could have bought both types of worthless securities. And, let’s face it, when you are trying to make the worst investment in the history of mankind, you can never have enough worthless assets!
This is where I think I can help Mr. Paulson — as well as Mr. Bernanke and the stingy Congress, because I happen to own a copy machine. All Mr. Paulson needs to do is to give me the go-ahead, and I can print up another 700 billion dollars for him (and maybe a few billion for myself, for my time), and he would then have enough money to buy up a good chunk of those worthless mortgages. Why stop at 700 billion, though? I could literally make hundreds of trillions of dollars by adding a few zeros here and there, which would allow him to buy up all the worthless assets in the world! I can’t figure out why Mr. Paulson’s oracle never informed him of the magic properties of the printing press and copy machine.
This solution has been hanging in front of Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke’s eyes for so long, that I’m surprised that neither of them thought of it. For, both of them have been solemnly declaring for months that they stand ready to do anything to save this economy from recession, and they’ve been telling Congress that a "new and improved!" stimulus package is called for. Well, why don’t they just pressure the Congress to get rid of the anti-counterfeiting laws in this country? There are around three hundred million people in this country, and a very good chunk of those people also own copy machines. With those copy machines freed from the ban on counterfeiting, Americans could just go ahead and print up their own stimulus checks at home. They would probably even print up a few extras for themselves just to be sure that they had enough money to get this economy rolling again! Mr. Bernanke’s not the only one who can make money out of thin air, and Mr. Paulson’s not the only one who can issue debt that will never be paid off. We can all help! Ask, and ye shall receive howsoever much money the economy "needs." What number comes after quadrillion? We can make that much money overnight, if the economy "needs" it!
I’m sure that Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke will eventually realize that the solution to our current malaise lies in mobilizing the entire nation to print as much money as possible. Mr. Bernanke has been printing money at an admirable clip this year, and Mr. Paulson has been giving money to his friends on Wall Street by the truckload. In the meanwhile, I guess we’ll just have to wait for that new money to trickle down to us from Mr. Paulson’s cronies on Wall Street. I just hope that prices haven’t skyrocketed before that new money makes its way to me, because I need new work boots and a new winter coat!
Mark R. Crovelli [send him mail] writes from Denver, Colorado.