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Five Things You Need to Know: Begging for a Bailout


There's an unsettlingly familiar feeling about Paulson in the White House on bended knee.


The Shipping Container Threat... Paulson, on Bended Knee, Begs for a Bailout... The Infinite Monkey Theorem Moment... Bailout Doomed to Failure... A Nixonian Moment

- Sep. 24,

See? Now, that, my friend, is how you pass a Bailout Bill. None of this amateurish stammering from people wearing red neckties warning about some vaguely apocalyptic economic disaster. No, just a carefully crafted, fixed and meditative headline: Shipping Containers Could Be "Dream" Homes for Thousands.

People don't physically hear politicians who speak in broad calamitous generalities for the same reason they don't duct tape their windows shut every time the theme song to the nightly news comes on. But when big time news outfits like CNN begin pumping out headlines warning that thousands of people are going to be forced to live in filthy shipping containers... and that not only are they going to be living in them, but that they are going to come to think of those shipping containers as Dream Homes... well, creeping Jesus, give me that bailout bill and a pen. Hurry! We have to pass this thing RIGHT NOW before we wind up packed in shipping containers like Eastern European prostitutes.

"With our design and with our price point, we think we'll at least be able to take the first step of getting more families into more homes" and formal property ownership, Brian McCarthy, partner in shipping container homebuilder PFNC Global Communities told CNN. "We fully anticipate that people will move into our homes, build up some equity, sell this home," he said. "We see this is a stepping stone to get into a bigger or more comfortable home."

Unless you are a hobo or a destitute reformed Traveller, a shipping container is not a "Dream Home" anymore than a cardboard refrigerator box is a "sleeping bag." And in a sense, that's the genius of the CNN headline. It is just this kind of grim specificity that will push this bailout bill through Congress this weekend, perhaps as soon as tonight.

Paulson, on Bended Knee, Begs for a Bailout

Or, if not that, it could be something totally bizarre, inconceivable - a "Black Swan" as they say on Wall Street - something like Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs (GS), getting down on his knees and pleading with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to negotiate and pass a Wall Street bailout bill. Heh. That would surely grease the wheels down there on Capitol Hill. Except that, according to the New York Times, he tried that last night and it didn't work.

- Sep. 26, New York Times

"The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support."

The Infinite Monkey Theorem Moment

Ye gods, here it is. As a society, we have finally arrived at our Infinite Monkey Theorem moment, which ultimately may explain - though not in any understandable or linear progression - why my head is roaring, I have clammy sweat under my eyes and the phone won't stop ringing about the bar tab I apparently left open last night.

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