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September 29, 2008

Qua Mei? America’s New Credo: ‘Where’s Mine?’


Dear Mr. Congressman,


I see where you’re going to bail out a bunch of banks who loaned money to people they should have known wouldn’t be able to pay them back. What is this going to cost? $700 billion? I guess this is why you’re the congressman and I’m just some idiot. It never would have occurred to me to do that.


But wait. There’s more. I also see that Congress wants to loan $25 billion to the Big Three automakers. Gosh, why don’t they just borrow the money from banks? Oh. Right. I forgot. Their credit ratings are garbage and no bank in its right mind would loan them money – especially when they’re so busy doing all these subprime mortgage deals!


I guess banks aren’t very smart, but even they know better than to loan money to GM, Ford and Chrysler. And as for AIG, which I see you are also propping up, why don’t you just have them bring back Hank Greenberg? (The CEO, not the ballplayer, the latter being dead and all.) He’s the one who built the place into a hugely successful insurer before Eliot Spitzer decided to investigate him for nothing. Come to think of it, what’s Eliot Spitzer doing these days?


Anyway, I am going somewhere with all this. This is my formal request for some of that abundantly available taxpayer money. You see, it appears that the United States of America has dispensed with its former Latin credo of E Pluribus Unim, which means “Out of many, one.” (Remember when Al Gore thought it meant “Out of one, many”? That was hilarious. Imagine if Sarah Palin had said that.) But yeah, we’re not using that anymore.


The new American credo is Qua Mei? That’s Latin for “Where’s mine?” It does sort of simplify things. Everyone sends all their money to you. Then everyone shows up at your door and demands that you give as much of it back to them as possible. With lanterns and pitchforks, they stand at the foot of the Capitol steps – businessmen, housewives, welfare recipients, out of work Hollywood actors – all chanting, “Qua Mei?”


So that’s what I’d like to know. Where’s mine?


Look. I’ll make it simple for you. You don’t even have to give me billions. Not even one billion. (I mean, you can if you want . . .) I’ll settle for $10 million. And just to make it clean, we’ll call it a “loan guarantee.” You know how those work. Someone else lends me the money and you basically co-sign for the loan, meaning that you’ll pay the loan back if I don’t.


And will I pay it back? What are you, crazy? Of course not. If I could pay back a $10 million loan, I’d get one from a bank. It’s only the people who can’t pay the money back who get it from you. I’m going to use it buy chicken, steaks, spaghetti and Caffeine-Free Diet Coke. And a hot tub. Mrs. Krause would really like one of those.


Oh, I’ll re-model my office too. You know, “business expenses.” If that helps you talk your colleagues into approving it, fine with me. But I’m not asking on some sort of flimsy premise that this represents a worthy cause. That would be silly. I’m just some guy who runs a company you’ve probably never heard of. I don’t have that many employees, and if we went out of business, it wouldn’t shake the foundations of the economy.


But I can offer you some stuff the Big Three and the Wall Street tycoons can’t. For starters, if you give me $10 million, I can pretty much guarantee you you’ll never hear from me again. I probably don’t have enough years left to live to spend $10 million. Remember when you bailed out Chrysler 30 years ago? Now they want money again. What a surprise! And how did they talk you into that one? By promising that at least this time they won’t bring Lee Iacocca with them?


Also, you can be pretty sure I won’t spend my $10 million making things worse. I won’t lend it to people who can’t pay me back. I won’t negotiate union deals I can’t afford. I won’t make “K-cars.” I’ll mainly just buy groceries and maybe replace my windows. I won’t fly off to exotic places, because I hate flying. And hey, you never know, I just might contribute some of it to your next campaign! (Oh, wait, I’m not supposed to say that? Well, don’t worry. I wasn’t actually going to do it.)


Wall Street invested billions in bad mortgages. GM, Ford and Chrysler wasted billions and made crappy cars no one wants. Me? I didn’t do anything wrong! I’m just sitting here.


So qua mei? Where’s mine? Cut me a check and I’ll never bother you again. Unless I run out of chicken.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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