Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bailout bacon. Delicious, delicious bacon.

In the middle of rushing through legislature intended to halt the supposed greatest economic collapse in America since the Great Depression, our elected heroes on Capitol Hill are proving that the one thing they do best is more of the same.

One wonderful thing has come from the failure to push the bailout package through the first time: it has given us more time to look at it. It has given us a chance to see that the bill began as a three-page measure and has bloated out to 450. Neither of those numbers is a typo.

Notably, it has given us a chance to see the $1.7 billion in pork--bacon, really, hickory-smoked and honey-crusted--in the form of tax cuts designed to woo fence votes. Among my favorites are $192 million for Puerto Rican rum producers, $128 for auto racing tracks, $33 for corporations in American Samoa, $223 for Alaskan fishermen affected by the Exxon Valdez 19 years ago, $10 for television productions, and my personal favorite, a $6 million cut designated thus:


(a) In General- Paragraph (2) of section 4161(b) is amended by redesignating subparagraph (B) as subparagraph (C) and by inserting after subparagraph (A) the following new subparagraph:

(B) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN WOODEN ARROW SHAFTS- Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means of enhancing the spine of such shaft (whether sold separately or incorporated as part of a finished or unfinished product) of a type used in the manufacture of any arrow which after its assembly–

(i) measures 5/16 of an inch or less in diameter, and

(ii) is not suitable for use with a bow described in paragraph (1)(A)

(b) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to shafts first sold after the date of enactment of this Act.

Thank God. We're saved from certain economic ruin. It was the wooden arrows that pushed Lehman Brothers over the edge. :Roll. Freaking. Eyes.:

Look, I know this crap happens all the time. It's how things work in the Capitol Hill Sausage Factory, and it makes The Jungle look like The Jungle Book. I understand that. But is this a crisis, or is it a grab opportunity? This isn't some obscure little bill that first-term Senators need to use to prove to the people in their district that they're working for them. This affects just about everyone in every district. Everyone is watching this one.

Aren't earmarks one of the big issues of the current presidential campaign? Where are Obiden and McPalin now? I want to know who's going to lead the charge and say, "Look. This one is different, guys. Let's get it right the way it's supposed to be gotten right, because it's the correct thing to do and not because we can get some cash for wool research (yes, wool research)." Maybe we can set a precedent of actually doing what Congress is supposed to do.

I don't know how I stand on this bailout. I'm not an economist, I have no assets to speak of, and I'm so deep in Hamlet that I haven't been able to research it as much as I would like. My fiscal conservative side says no, that failures have to be weeded out of the financial gene pool for it to be healthy. But my social-justice-seeking side sees a lot of people in a lot of trouble because of the worst kind of abuses of capitalism. Both sides are now hungry for Bite-Sized Frosted Mini-Wheats.

I don't know what the right thing to do is. But I'm fairly confident that it involves neither rum, wool, or the diameter of children's wooden arrows.

New York Post link.

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