Bill Whittle has an absolutely hilarious article at NRO that compares the current financial mess to passing a kidney stone:
But the fact is, after two hours of this I was screaming and cursing and calling out to God and Jesus and whoever else would listen. And all that second Demerol shot did was take that bright light down from filling the room to being a single, white-hot spot the size of my fist moving down and to the right at the speed of L.A. traffic. So after three hours of this, I was reduced to simply mewling, and at about 3:30 P.M., the doctor went away for 15 minutes and when he came back he gave me a shot of Dilaudid, which is the name I will give to my first child, male or female.
I’d been in serious pain only once before, about 20 years ago, when I cracked a molar that lit into the nerve that runs through your jaw. That put me on the floor, too — right quick. That was a toothache I felt in my hip. And the thing I remember about that time and on Friday too, was a sense that when you are in that universe of pain for three or four hours there simply is no other side to it. You can’t remember, and you can’t imagine, what it would feel like not to hurt.
So imagine my delight, ten minutes later, to see the hallway door melt away as room was filled with unicorns! Little cartoon unicorns, each with a silky mane of bright blue or green or pink . . . and when they giggled — which was continuously — they would lift up their little tails and rainbows would emerge. And in that one wonderful moment as my eyes rolled back and the white-hot light faded away and vanished — in that blissful instant I suddenly understood with perfect clarity the whole Hope and Change thing. I had gone from the horrible, nasty, mean Republican America to the other America. And it’s a much better place, it really is.
So he passed the stone and apparently the tests proved he’s not pregnant. Then he started thinking about what he learned from passing a kidney stone without health insurance:
And this is my concern about the $700 billion kidney stone the economy is trying to pass. It seems to me that if we are going to change behaviors then the people who got us into this mess need to feel a little pain. If the hospital was handing out free Dilaudid every day my first question would be “what time do you guys open?” I’d pass 50 kidney stones a day if I could get to play with the unicorns instead of suffering for it.
Every decision we make is based on a risk/reward calculation. If we take away the consequences of risky behavior, we will see more of it. And if there’s a money-back guarantee for greedy and stupid decisions, we’re in real trouble, because there is only so much money in the bank but supplies of greed and stupidity are endless.
So how do we inflict some badly-needed pain on people who need to feel it, without hurting the rest of the good and honest folks who pay their bills responsibility? Well, there are three simple rules that we must follow. Unfortunately, no one knows what those three rules are. So here we are. I’m as flummoxed as the rest of you.
I will say this, though: half way through the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had a plan to buy the slaves. He would give the south a chance to end the war early by compensating them — with Northern cash — for the market value of the slaves that they held. It was a monstrous sum, but he thought it was necessary. So he wrote: “Certainly it is not so easy to pay something as to pay nothing; but it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it is easier to pay any sum when we are able, than it is to pay before we are able.”
My own irresponsibility got me looking at 50 years of age without health insurance. I’m going to owe that hospital about two grand for this adventure. If you think I won’t miss that two grand, then you have over-estimated the financial value of internet punditry. But it’s my obligation; it’s my debt. I owe it and I’ll pay it, and I’ll try to remain focused on the fact that it could have been much, much worse. It was only that pain that got me to change my ways.
Is that too much to ask of this mess? That from whatever pain we have to endure, we can perhaps learn enough from it so that we don’t go through this again?
I think he’s right about that and that’s why I faxed that letter in the previous post to so many people on Capital Hill today. The Paulson bailout does not require anyone except the American people to pass the $700 billion kidney stone. The banks that screwed up would not feel enough pain and therefore they will just make the same mistakes in the future.