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This is supposed to be a humor column and I was going to write about Black Friday, the trampling of a Wal-Mart employee by 2,000 of bargain-crazed shoppers, and the shoot-out in the electronic toys section of Toys-R-Us. But the more I thought about it, the less funny it seemed.
So I decided to write about the $700,000,000,000 Wall Street bailout. Seven-hundred billion dollars. I used to think a million was a big number. A billion is a thousand million, a really big number. And seven hundred thousand million is too big for my mind to grasp.
So I looked at it another way. The bailout is costing each taxpayer over $5,000. Think of it as your share of the million-dollar salaries and bonuses paid to the financial wizards as they dug this cesspool we are in. They are a lot smarter than Bernie Madoff, because they will be sitting in their beachfront estates in the Caribbean instead of a jail cell. Are you pissed off yet?
Yes, the Madoff Ponzi Scheme. There's plenty of humor in a bunch of rich guys getting screwed out of $50,000,000,000 by one of their buddies at their exclusive Palm Beach Country Club. But wait a minute. A lot of these guys were pretty decent people and had their money in charitable foundations or gave a substantial part of their income to charity. So a lot more people who really need help got screwed as well. That's not so funny.
The bumblers in Detroit are always good for a few laughs. The last time they went to Congress to beg for help they drove their economy cars instead of flying in on their corporate jets. Our Congressmen may be dumb, but they are good enough politicians to see through that ruse. Especially when Wagoner couldn't figure out what the pedal to the left of the brake was for.
Unfortunately, Bush caved in and gave them some of the financial system bailout money. Thirteen and one-half billion. It should keep them going for a few weeks. Is it just me or is there something wrong with this whole scenario? $13,500,000,000 to keep two companies going for a few weeks? After which time they will restructure, return to profitably and repay the government? As Wagoner said, "Bankruptcy is not an option." They already tried it and it didn't work.
To cap off this month of greed and corruption is the governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. This guy is a jewel. He provided more material for Saturday Night Live than Sarah Palin. The hairdo alone was enough. Selling Obama's senate seat was a great idea. Unfortunately, it appears that Blagojevich was going to keep the money for himself instead of turning it over to the state treasury. These are desperate times. Maybe Governor Paterson should also sell Clinton's senate seat. It could help relieve the massive budget deficit faced by New York.
But not everything is going to hell. The word is out that this season will return to the traditional values of the holidays: family, friends, and good cheer. It might even be the end of wretched excess. It doesn't matter that we are forced into it by hard times. We can still enjoy a little old-fashioned sanity.
As motorcyclists we have always known that we get much more from fewer things. Two wheels instead of four. A tent instead of a hotel. A cold beer at the end of a long ride instead of a martini at a fancy resort. A conversation with a friend instead of the Shopping Channel on a 52-inch flat screen TV. And knowing you have the support of other motorcyclists, including me.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday, and a peaceful and safe new year.
— Copyright © 2008 by Notch Miyake.