Monday, October 27, 2008

The real cause of the financial mess

Caution: severely off-color blog post potty humor

Sometimes as I ponder this latest financial crisis, I wonder about its origins, and then I just look around a little bit, and it’s not so much of a mystery.

The thing which strikes me is the ridiculous excess which characterizes modern American life. It is ubiquitous, but we hardly ever notice it. It has softened us, and prepared us for the great calamity which is now upon us.

Take the bathroom here, for instance. I am staying right now at the Four Seasons in Palm Springs. It does happen to be a particularly over-the-top place, but this story could be told at any number of hotels which are affordable even to the masses.

The bathroom is a deliciously marbled thing, with expensive, shiny new fixtures everywhere. The commode is stationed luxuriously in its own little compartment, itself walled and ceilinged with marble. The door to this space thunks with an authoritarian permanence when closed. The space is hardly larger than the commode itself. My wife, I am sure, would love the floorplan of this particular bathroom, as it would provide a buffer from the more unsavory aspects of her spouse.

Anyway, on the wall, conveniently placed at eye level while sitting, is a phone. A phone.

Now, come on.

Admittedly, I do some of my best thinking while stationed thusly, but seriously. Have we now gotten to the point where everyone is so busy that they cannot even afford to finish their business before trotting off to a real phone to make an important call?

Who in God’s name has ever used one of these phones?

I can imagine the call to my broker going something like this:

Ring. Ring.

“Hello, ________ speaking…” (name changed to spare the innocent)… (that would be you, T)...
“Dude, what’s up?”
“Hey, man, to what do I owe this honor?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking.”
“Uh oh. Whatd’ya got”
“Well, I’ve been thinking…uuuuunhhhhhhhhhah!”
“You grunted!”
“I heard you grunt or something.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I distinctly heard a loud grunt. What the hell are you doing there?”
“Oh that. Oh, well, that was the cat.”
“The cat?”
“I thought you were at a hotel? Ritz, or something?”
“Oh yeah. Four Seasons.”
“Yeah, well, that was the neighbor’s cat.”
“The neighbor’s cat? What are you talking about?”
“Hey, nevermind, long story. You’re changing the subject. I’ve been thinking here.”
“OK, about what?”
“Well, I’m thinking that this market is about to tank on us major-domo, and I should be selling everything and parking it in cash.. uuuuunhhhhhhhhhah!”
“There you go again!”
“What do you mean, I just figured this out myself!”
“No, the grunting!”
“You just grunted again!”
“What are you talking about? I am talking about selling everything!”
“Dude, are you crapping?”
“Well, man, I know you got some strange shit going on upstairs – I thought that analyst guy was working out? – but I don’t want you making shit up on my time!”
“I am not the one grunting!”
“You’re hearing shit.”
“MARTHA! Can you pick up that phone!”
“Hey, stay with me here.”
“OK, what about this cash? I told you man, your cash is safe. It’s in money markets…”
“No, you’re not getting it…”
“Hey, man, I gotta go.”
“I gotta go, man, got a big client on the other line…”

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