Friday, January 23, 2009

Starting with the "Citi morgue"

Bury the Dead Banks
A couple of years back in my natal nabe of Hell’s Kitchen, just off Times Square, a professional inebriate joined the great majority, leaving behind an uncashed disability check. His buddies, ever in need of bucks for bottles, got the bright idea of sitting the corpse in a wheelchair and rolling it down to a money store. They pretended the recipient was merely napping and that they were doing him the service of securing his spondulicks. The clerk wasn’t buying any such nonsense and called in the law, who charged the miscreants with fraud, a breach intellectually beyond the public drunkeness and disorderly conduct violations that matched their talents.
Put those winos in bespoke suits and let them bloviate on the business channels and you will see the same scam, only a billion times bigger. Like the sodden stiff, American-style rip 'n run capitalism expired after a life of wretched excess. It happened back on the the drunk’s holiday of St. Patrick’s Day, 2008, when the Fed (meaning big, socialistic government) was obliged to replace an insolvent Wall Street as our national banker and broker.
Ever since, the money crowd has been pretending that the deceased is only dozing. The Reps, who had organized their existence around the credo that capitalism would piss on government’s grave, simply can’t accept that the unimaginable opposite has occurred. The Dems want to avoid their assigned task of disposing of the body. But the bankers, of course, are denying it for dollars. If they can maintain the fantasy that zombies like Citibank are merely comatose they can keep the cash transfusions flowing from Uncle Sam. Not only that, the scam helps to juice the stock market. Citi’s shares, for instance, swing wildly, plunging on revelations about its true condition and soaring on stories that additional fed handouts are forthcoming. Both the longs and the shorts get in their licks as the rest of us go bust.
If Obama’s serious about restoring the economy, the least he can do is to cancel this cozen asap. Check for pulses, listen for heartbeats, then bury the dead banks and nationalize the major survivors to ensure that they lend rather than hoard. It’s only a first shovelful in digging ourselves out of the hole, but it’s a vital one.