Apparently there are no longer any adults in charge of the world. We’re ruled by buccaneers. Like Willie Yeats once wrote, “things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” Stock market crashes, golden parachutes and politicians whistling past graveyards. Oh for the simpler days when all we had to worry about was lipstick on pigs and shooting baby seals from helicopters. To quote the great songwriter Randy Newman “Now it seems like we’re supposed to be afraid/ It’s patriotic in fact and color coded.” We have no warm fuzzy FDR or Ronald Reagan telling us not be afraid. The whole country has fallen into the Salem Witch Project movie. We can roll ourselves up into a ball of fear and hide under the bed or we can try to put the fun back into dysfunctional. When economic catastrophe is inevitable, might as well try to enjoy it.
    {mosimage}The leadership displayed by our political and financial leaders during our current financial crisis calls up the cheerful and yet minty fresh painting by Bruegel the Elder called “The Parable of the Blind Leading the Blind.” The painting shows six blind beggars holding onto each other walking down a path. The leading beggar has fallen in a ditch and the other five are soon to follow. Bruegel painted this in 1568. Who knew he was predicting America’s leadership in 2008? Nostradamus step aside.
    Watching the $700 billion bailout booty fizzle and seeing the stock market drop 800 points during one day can be a bit off putting. Get used to it — your money has gone to Davy Jones’ locker. Your financial future’s been keelhauled. In the Great Depression II, all is not lost. We’ll get to try out new roles in the brave new world in which the Good Ship Deregulation has foundered. Like Gilligan, the Skipper and the landlubbers who were shipwrecked from the Minnow on Gilligan’s Island, our visit to the island of Lost IRAs and ghost banks is going take a lot longer than a three-hour tour.
    We’re going to need new jobs because the old ones won’t exist. Personally, I am going to apply to be a Pirate Spokesman like Suguli Ali. Suguli is the Pirate Spokesman for the Somali pirates who took over the Ukranian freighter M.V. Faina. When captured by pirates off the Somalia coast, the Faina was loaded with guns and Russian T-72 tanks. At first I was mildly surprised that 21st century pirates have a spokesman. How would you go about getting that job? Suguli announced the pirates would release the ship and crew for only $20 million. That’s a lot less than the Wall Street Bailout.
    As I pondered the concept of a world that can generate a Pirate Spokesman, I realized that AIG, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley all have spokesmen. There’ll be no cat o’ nine tails for those gentlemen of fortune executives, just a huge pile of golden doubloon parachutes and a McMansion at Fiddler’s Green for them. Our financial wizards are no better than seagoing pirates. Naturally, the Somali pirates have the right to have a spokesman. Put an eye patch and a parrot on Richard Fuld of the late, great Lehman Brothers and you’ve got a dandy pirate. Pirating is just another form of love.
    The pirates also have K Street Lobbyists. Tucked away into the starboard side of the $700 billion bail out bill for Wall Street was a nifty little earmark for $192 million in excise tax rebates for rum producers in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Who benefits from cheaper rum? Pirates of course. The pirates got their earmark. How great is that? Unsurprisingly, pirates get treated better than non-pirates. Sixteen congressmen on a dead individual retirement account’s chest, Yo-Ho-Ho and a bottle of rum!
    It is no coincidence that we just observed International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19. The stock market went up 388 points that day to over 11,000 just to fool us into thinking we’d found a safe harbor. Unfortunately, Talk Like a Pirate Day contained a secret message to the Bilge Rats who ran Wall Street to take the money and run. Arrr, me hearties! The scurvy curs grabbed the gold from the hold of the Good Ship America when they scuttled the stock market by making the credit markets walk the Bring down old Glory, Mateys! Hoist the Jolly Roger! Guzzle the grog! Aye! We be under new management.
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