To: Tim Geithner, Bailout Decider, U.S. Treasury
CC: Ben Bernanke, Bailout Buddha, Federal Reserve
CC: Santa Claus, just in case
Dear Sirs: Please be advised that I am changing my status from ordinary American consumer (OAC) to bank-holding company (BHC) in order to qualify for funds from the government’s Troubled Assets Relief Program. Since I couldn’t find the official application form, I’ve listed my qualifications below:
1. I qualify as a bank-holding company for the following reasons:
My balance sheet is a wreck.
I have posted a sign in front of my house that says “Newman Bank.”
I don’t actually lend money to anybody.
I can certify that I do not employ any unionized workers, only an illegal immigrant, occasionally. And I make her dress nice.
2. I have troubled assets. To wit:
My home. I suspect that other people in my neighborhood have received some kind of mortgage relief, even though I haven’t. This troubles me. If they've gotten something free from the government, then I should, too.
My car. I have a car loan and if I refuse to repay it, the bank will seize my car. Thus my car qualifies as a collateralized debt obligation (CDO) and is therefore eligible for relief under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA), specifically, the well-known “Citigroup provision,” which stipulates that if I say so, you have to believe me.
My 401(k). The trouble is, it’s hard to call it an asset anymore.
3. Terms of the Bailout:
I’m asking for such a small amount of the TARP funds that nobody will notice. I figure $3 million ought to be enough. If not, I could probably make do with $2 million.
These will be low-interest government loans, at the prevailing rate, which I notice is getting close to zero. I reserve the right, at some point in the future, to invoke the “AIG clause” of the EESA by asking the government to lower the rate on the loans, to less than zero in this case, so that the government is actually paying me to take its money.
In exchange for TARP funds, I hereby grant the U.S. government limited ownership rights to the property on which Newman Bank is domiciled, specifically the driveway. It needs shoveling, so please send somebody over.
I will set an example by refusing to use TARP funds to fly the corporate jet. First-class commercial travel will be fine.
4. It is in the nation’s interest to bail me out.
No promises, but I might use the bailout money to stimulate the economy by loaning money to friends or family members so they can buy Twinkies and Marlboros. I won’t just give them the money, because that would be socialism. Instead, I’ll insist they pay back the loans at a higher interest rate than the government is charging me, so that I can make a few bucks on the deal and stimulate the economy even more. The American taxpayer will enjoy a multiplier effect!
If I don’t get a bailout, it won’t be just me who suffers. It will be approximately 49,642 other Americans who rely on me for restaurant tips, barbershop fees, positive reinforcement and blog entries. It will be catastrophic if the government fails to help them by turning down my bailout request.
Without bailout funds, I will be forced to make irrational decisions that will irreparably harm the economy.
This is no time to quibble over a few million dollars. It’s a time to show leadership and act. So come on, give me some money.