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Economy: Code Blue


Stimulus provides a jolt - but the heart will continue to fail.

The President has been using allegory in an attempt to help people understand his plans for improving the economy. When he says "we need a bold enough plan to jolt the economy back to health," we all think of a heart patient suffering arrhythmia.

But the President and the rest of the government seem to believe, or would have us believe, that arrhythmia is the disease itself, not a symptom of the disease. Any doctor would tell you that's not true.

So let's take our analogy further. Let's say the heart, which is beaing irregularly, or even stopping, needs to be jolted back to health. Now we have to diagnose the patient for the cause of the heart trouble. The first thing any good doctor does is to look at the patient's history.

Twenty years ago, our patient -- let's call him Sam -- began eating too much. He lived on rich foods - far too rich for his metabolism to correctly digest. The body naturally began to produce fat cells. Fifteen years ago, Sam was fat, but still looked relatively healthy and exhibited no outward signs of sickness. By this time, he was hooked on rich foods, and just kept eating.

Ten years ago, Sam was getting pretty fat. He had a mild heart attack. That was a warning. But his doctor wasn't very good. He checked all of Sam's other vitals (not very thoroughly) and decided that even though Sam was fat, he didn't need to go on a special diet - he just needed to eat less of what he was eating. He didn't really need to exercise, either. This doctor didn't like confrontation.

But without clear warning and prescribed action, Sam kept eating. Six or so years ago, Sam was obese. He had a major heart attack. The doctor, being his same weak self, was more worried about covering his tracks than he was about doing the right thing for Sam. He told Sam he needed a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat. This would solve all his problems, and allow Sam to enjoy life the way he had learned to enjoy it.

The pacemaker worked - for a time. Sam went merrily along getting fatter and fatter.

Six months ago, Sam's heart failed: It couldn't support the amount of blubber on his body. It couldn't pump enough blood to all the capillaries that had grown to bring blood to the fat cells. The doctor jolted and jolted the hear trying to start it again; but every time the heart began to pump, the pressure was so great it failed again and again.

Sam is now on life-support. Machines are acting as his heart, and Sam can't get off the machines. So the doctor is now exploring an experimental artificial heart that can pump twice as much blood as a normal heart. The doctor knows Sam might explode from the pressure, but the doctor is more concerned about protecting his practice from lawsuits than he really is about Sam's health.

What Sam really needs is a new doctor. Any rational doctor would tell Sam, who now weighs 800 pounds, that he cannot survive at this weight. Sam needs first to lose the weight that's causing his heart problems.

Without doing that, you can jolt the heart all you want - but it will continue to fail.

The Cast of Characters:

Sam: Consumer

Food: Consumption

Heart: Credit markets

Fat: Debt

Blubber: Extreme debt

Doctor: The Federal Reserve

Pacemaker: Fannie Mae (FNM)
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