I’m a little surprised that the government still hasn’t bailed out the automotive industry. I’d thought there were no limits to the ineptitude we were willing to underwrite. Eventually, of course, we will bail out General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, because you have to be a convicted serial killer before we will choose not to bail you out (or you have to fly to the Capitol in three separate private jets). In the meantime, here are some other lost causes that we need to throw money at right now or the world as we know it will come to an end.
The New York Mets and their new ballpark. Yup, the baseball team that I have rooted for heart and soul my whole life collapsed again this year in the last week of the season. Adding insult to injury, they built a beautiful new stadium and — thanks to the $400 million that a big struggling bank is giving the team over the next 20 years — named it Citi Field. It wasn’t all that long ago that the Houston Astros were playing on Enron Field. Have we learned nothing from history? Of course not. Let’s be sure to give Citigroup all the money it needs to name that new stadium and the Mets all the money they need to sign ballplayers who didn’t have their spines surgically removed at birth.
Plaxico Burress. The wide receiver for the New York Giants is out on bail for illegal possession of a loaded weapon (a .40-caliber Glock pistol), after he accidentally shot himself in the leg last weekend. It is possible this little escapade could cost the football player $23 million of his $35 million contract. Burress is out on bail, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t bail him out if he loses that $23 million. Guys with Glocks, after all, have a hard time inking the really cushy endorsement deals.
“Pushing Daisies.” The ABC television show about a pie maker who can bring people back from the dead with a single touch was canceled last month because ratings were poor. Sure, the premise was ridiculous and inexplicable. But I liked it. Why not toss a little green in the direction of absurdist TV?
Circuit City. The consumer electronics retail giant is in bankruptcy. Let’s throw them a lifeline, too. The only provision? They have to explain to me once and for all how to use TiVo.
Michael Jackson. Not only has Beyonce commandeered his one glove thing with “Single Ladies,” last month he defaulted on the $23.5 million he owes on his Neverland ranch. Given the amount of money we are spending to prop up other real estate ventures, what’s another $23.5 million?
The governor of Alaska. Remember how Sarah Palin was everywhere the week after the presidential election? That was a month ago and so now she is yesterday’s news. Well, I miss the vice presidential candidate’s inability to utter two complete sentences in a row that someone else didn’t write for her. Let’s open our wallets, give her the dough she needs to buy back the clothes she returned when the election was over, and get that linguistic Superfund cleanup site back on TV.
Sen. Joe Lieberman. Speaking of vice presidential candidates, was it only eight years ago that Sen. Lieberman was running for vice president beside Democrat Al Gore? This year he was stumping for Republican John McCain and spoke at the Republican National Convention. Now, with the Democrats in the driver’s seat, he could certainly use an image makeover of titanic proportions. And that won’t come cheap. The solution? Senators bailing out one of their own. And why not? They’re bailing out everyone else.
The Earth. It was a great first step to extend tax credits for renewable-energy businesses in the (original) $700 billion bailout bill. Obviously, however, there’s much more we can do — which brings me back to the three U.S. automakers. Let’s hope when we do bail them out, their big ideas steer clear of big cars. And, just maybe, they start commuting to Washington in the same plane.
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on December 7, 2008.)