Sunday, September 21, 2008

Treasure Secretary Paulson Proposes a "Nation of Racinos"

Earlier this week, U.S. Government officials announced a proposed $700 billion bailout of a banking system run amuck. Now it has been learned that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, working with State of New Mexico officials, has come up with another audacious plan to prop up the economy. Paulson will urge, in fact demand, that Congress and President Bush authorize immediate construction of a "Racino" on every street corner in America.

"I was at Yonkers Raceway trying to calm my nerves after a crazy week when it hit me," Secretary Paulson explained at yet another hastily called press conference Sunday morning. "I looked around the track and video gaming casino areas and noticed that people were betting like crazy. They didn't care that the entire U.S. banking and credit systems were about three seconds from collapse. They just wanted the number seven horse to win in the second race. And then my Harvard-trained M.B.A. mind starting whirring, just like those wheels on the video poker machines I love so much.

"Trust me, my brain works way too fast to explain here, but in simple terms what crossed my mind was that without a completely unregulated banking system in this country, thousands and thousands and thousands of soon-to-be-unemployed credit/security market M.B.A.s won't be able to basically gamble with the American economy. Myriad billions of dollars will no longer be up for capitalistic grabs on a daily basis by stiff white-shirted brainiacs. What are these soon-to-be bailed out, unemployed traders to do with all the taxpayer money we give them along with a pink slip not allowing them to short stock, straddle options and execute questionable loans? And what is credit/security trading if not gambling?"

The Secretary scanned the room, noting that several reporters had fallen asleep. "Huh? Huh? Hey sleepy press, did you hear my questions? Are you even paying attention? What's the difference between unregulated banking and betting exactas at a harness track. Nothing, I tell ya, nothing!

"Then I get home yesterday from playing video poker and do some Googling. I see this story in a New Mexico paper about some beautifully monopolistic deal where the State of New Mexico offered up damn few "Racino" licenses to investors from all over the place. I didn't even know what a "Racino" was until I read that story, but it got me to thinking. And when I start thinking, you know what that means.

"You got a large population of poorer people who will do anything to get their minds off the fact they're probably gonna lose their job in about a month, can't pay their mortgage or sell their place in this burst bubble housing market, and will do anything, including throwing money on the seven horse in the second race at Yonkers. Then you got all these bailed out M.B.A.s who just love thinking up ways to make money in deregulated markets. Hey lazy reporters...put two and two together (no calculators you lazy swine) and what do you get?"

A fairly lengthy tense silence ensued before a reporter finally, haltingly answered: "You build Racinos all over the country, staff them with ex-banking and credit market professionals and provide diversionary entertainment to the poor, jobs to the criminally entrepreneurial, and tax money to a government who just went "all-in" on the banking bailout?"

Secretary Paulson then motioned for one of his Treasury Department to offer the reporter a job running one of the new Racinos. The reporter gleefully threw his press notebook into the air, dancing a crazed jig, while other reporters looked on enviously. The now suddenly alert press instinctively started throwing their hands into the air, some to ask questions about the Racino proposal, but most to ask if, they too, could find employment at the Racinos.

"Now you pay attention! You people are pathetic," Paulsen said trailing off. As the commotion in the press room died down Secretary Paulson added, "licenses for the new Racinos will be auctioned off on a special Treasure Department EBay web portal called 'Gamble For America'. Racino site locations are hurriedly being picked out right this second by Treasury staff on Google Earth. If we see any unused land on any street, anywhere, we're throwing eminent domain on it pronto. Hell, in this depressed real estate market we can buy 50,000 large empty lots for less than $700 billion! Maybe 100,000. Just think of the ancillary improvement that will have on property values, and now all those illegals in the construction trades will have something to do instead of going back home.

"I tell you, it's beautiful man, beautiful. Am I the smartest guy in the room, or what?"

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