Remember the old joke about Mrs. Lincoln after Honest Abe had his unfortunate meeting with John Wilkes Booth? “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is asking America the same thing now. “Other than that, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, how did you like financial deregulation?” Are you enjoying watching the stock market, your retirement and various financial institutions tumble into a black hole of deregulatory fun? Hank is singing the old Limbo song, “How low can you go?”
    Nobody knows the trouble Wall Street has seen. Nobody knows the sorrow. Except for Hank. He knows because he’s from the Planet of a Major Investment Bank and is a creature of Wall Street. He wallows in credit default swaps, hedge funds, short sales, dark matter and charmed quarks. The Wall Street Wizards live in a parallel world that we mere mortals cannot hope to understand. The Wizards are better than us, smarter than us and unmoved by human emotion or ethics. We should trust them. Only they know how to unravel the large ball of poo into which they have driven the American economy. Do not think of Charlie Brown trying to kick the football that Lucy always pulls away at the last minute. Trust the Wizards. {mosimage}
    In Hank’s world when a corporate CEO drives his company off a financial bridge to Chappaquiddick, that’s OK. Pucker up America. You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss. While the taxpayers are not going to get kissed by Bush’s bailout bill, they will experience another form of love that dare not speak its name in polite society.
    According to the Bush Administration, the event horizon of deregulation is going to suck the entire U.S. economy into it in 72 hours unless we give $700 billion and some groovy new superpowers to Hank Paulson to bail out his Wall Street buddies. Hank wants $700 billion of your dollars to spread around as good-bye gifts from the Bush Administration to the Greedheads of Wall Street. He wants superpowers to go with the pile of cash. Section 8 of the Administration’s Money Dump bill provides, and I quote: “Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
    This means that Hank can spend all of our money anyway he wants to and no one can say diddly boo. Section 8 enables Hank to speak ex cathedra on how he spends the money. Pope Hank, I will be infallible on financial matters. Like Richard Nixon once said, “When the President does it, that means it’s not illegal.” When Pope Hank blows the taxpayers’ money on his Wall Street buddies, that means it’s not illegal.
    Section 8 is an advance pardon for whatever Hank decides to do. Normally, pardons are issued after the wrong doing. Curiously, Section 8 issues the pardon in advance. That’s a pretty nifty superpower. Wouldn’t it be great to do whatever you want and no one could call you on it because you were protected by a Section 8 Force Field? Wall Street contends that Section 8 is necessary to save us from the mess the Wizards and the Bush Administration got us into. Some people will contend that Section 8 is a sanity test. If Congress just says no to Superpowers, it passes the sanity test.
    Section 8 once was what the armed forces used to discharge military folks who were deemed to be mentally unfit for service. There are no coincidences. Calling the Superpowers Section 8 of the bailout bill is just Hank Paulson’s idea of a little joke to go with his $700 billion going away present to Wall Street. The $700 billion is just the first estimate of what the bailout will cost. When was the last time the government’s first estimate of the cost of a project was accurate? The memory of man runneth not to such a time.
    Next time you’re at the Walmart buy up a whole bunch of Mason jars. Put your money in the jars. Bury the jars in the back yard. Be like Mrs. Lincoln, try to enjoy the play.

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