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October 6, 2008

Congressman Bonehead and the Economic Cake Batter of America


Nobody paid me last week. Or the week before. Bummer.


You don’t even want to know the total value of my past-due receivables. Let’s just say they’re a lot higher than usual, while the balance in our bank account is a lot lower than usual.


Now, you may recall that last week I wrote a column mocking the whole idea of government bailouts, especially the $25 million that went to the Big Three automakers, but certainly including the one that went to Wall Street. I mocked this for several reasons, most prominently the fact that I mock everything. I also mocked it because the people who required the bailouts are idiots, and the day I fail to mock an idiot is the day they give someone else this column.


But I will take the rare occasion to actually say something serious here so you know where I’m coming from. Given the alternatives, I was all for the bailout – not because its recipients deserved it, but because the entire economy would have collapsed without it, and that economy consists of people like me.


This is not because I borrow money to fund operations. I don’t. I used to! Got in big trouble doing that. Now I rely on consistent positive cash flow to fund operations and pay those debts off. Most of my clients don’t borrow to fund operations either.


But that doesn’t matter. Somewhere up the chain, someone does. I’m waiting for nearly $5,000 from a client who’s waiting for $10,000 from their client, which hasn’t paid because their customer is having trouble accessing a line of credit. I’m four links down on the chain, and I can’t get my money.


You don’t need to feel sorry for me. I’m not complaining. I’m just enlightening you. I’d rather have this problem than sit there in your cubicle and deal with your life. But I offer the information here to illuminate how poorly our fine public servants – especially those who claim to be “defending Main Street” – really understand what happens on Main Street.


There’s no getting around the fact that the economy depends on the smooth availability of credit to operate. I don’t particularly like that fact, but it is a fact. And even if you don’t need to access credit to operate, you still can’t get cash unless you get paid by people who do need credit. So when Wall Street starts imploding, Main Street suffers.


One bonehead congressman I saw during this debate kept talking about how he was going to protect the taxpayers’ dollars from being used to reward these greedy, stupid, malevolent financial buzzards. Yo. Taxpayer here! I don’t much care for the buzzards either, but they’re the only ones around to lend money to the people who pay the people who pay the people who pay the people who pay me. And that’s the money I use to pay my employees and my taxes.


Understand? I don’t think Congressman Bonehead has ever been a CEO because of the clueless things he says. Real CEOs say different clueless things, like “synergistic alignment” and “I wonder what Steven Covey thinks about this.” They don’t talk about defending the people on Main Street by taking down the people who can keep them supplied with capital.


Here’s what I don’t think enough members of Congress understand: Our whole economy is like a big bowl of cake batter. All the parts need to work together. If the flour starts trying to take down the vanilla, if the eggs start attacking the oil, the cake might end up blowing itself to smithereens. Frosting will be all over your walls and in your hair.


But, you say, the oil was an idiot! It deserved to be attacked by the eggs! Fine. While you’re scrubbing that frosting off your wall and out of your carpet, you keep telling yourself that. The oil got what it deserved!


And so did you.


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


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