Friday, March 20, 2009

The Matrix

The Matrix, the hugely popular movie featuring Keanu Reaves, conceptualized an alternate world disguised as the real world, so that average humans would go on, thinking they are living their lives without drastic change, as machines acted as puppet masters behind the scenes, using us all for our energy in order to survive.

When you think about it, that concept isn't all that dissimilar from what is happening currently in Washington with all of the bailouts. The politicians are the machines, US citizens are the unassuming, comfortable humans, and only a rare few of us are actually "awake" living in the true real world.

Let me enlighten you. I am certain at some point over the last few months, you have heard some variation of a statistic suggesting how much all of these bailouts are costing each man woman and child in the United States. Last time I check, it was approaching a few grand. While to most people that is still a significant sum of money, when you rationalize it that way, it still doesn't seem like its that much.

So I took the time to create a matrix of my own (Microsoft Excel spreadsheet) depicting the twenty-five largest cities in America, their populations, and their average household incomes in order to come up with the annual average income of the cities themselves. Note: Unfortunately due to formatting issues, I am unable to paste the table into this blog, but just trust me...

The real purpose of this exercise was to determine how much each bailout costs an entire city population. That is, I wanted to show how much the bailouts cost U.S. taxpayers as a function of everybody in a major U.S. city forking over every penny they've earned over the course of an entire year. I was hoping my efforts would put some perspective on these bailouts, and the results are astounding. Time for some fun facts.

- If everybody in the city of Philadelphia handed over every penny they earned last year, it would cover the cost of Citigroup's bailouts.

- If everybody in Miami AND Pittsburgh handed over they're paychecks for all of last year, it WOULDN'T be enough to cover just the INITIAL auto bailout.

- To cover the initial auto bailout, AND the subsequent requests to maintain solvency, it would take the dollars and cents of everyone in Miami, Dallas & Seattle.

- Think bailing out AIG was a necessary evil? Ask everybody in Chicago if they'd be willing to spend everything they earned last year to make it happen.

- The cost of bailing out, or to be politically correct, placing in conservatorship, Fannie and Freddie? That would be the entire incomes of Los Angeles, Boston & Phoenix.

- And saving the best for last, what was the total cost of the Bush bailout? Only the equivalent of asking every taxpayer in the three largest American cities (New York, LA, & Chicago) to hand every penny over that they made last year. Oh, and guess what....that STILL would have come up a little short.

When we put it in this context, do you think there is a chance in hell Congress would have approved ANY of these bailouts? A few, maybe, but all of them, certainly not. And at least that would have been one fewer emergency tracheotomy resulting in our economic death.

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