Just send the next bailout check to me

Posted: Sunday, January 04, 2009

In recent weeks, my family and I have carefully observed the bailouts that have been provided to, or requested by, various companies since the financial crisis began. After much deliberation with our accountants and financial advisers, we have concluded that, in order to prevent a deeper recession and turn around the U.S. economy, the federal government needs to give the next bailout package directly to us.

The U.S. government is currently considering a variety of economic rescue strategies, including some that would ultimately cost as much as $1.2 trillion, or approximately $4,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States. Accordingly, for a family of 10 such as ours (three sons, three grandchildren and two daughters-in-law), this means a $40,000 bailout.

To reduce administrative costs, instead of writing 10 separate checks, the Treasury can send it all to me. As head of the household, I can be trusted to make sure every member of our family gets his or her fair share. Officials and taxpayers alike can rest assured that my family members will monitor me much more directly than any government oversight committee would ever monitor J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and the other big winners of the recent bailout lottery.

We deserve these funds for the same reasons that the big Wall Street firms and the giant automakers do.

First, we do not believe in government handouts. (Evidently, this is the first requirement for any entity that intends to receive a government handout.) Like the previous recipients of bailout funds, we have made a living in the marketplace and never received federal money. In fact, we have argued for years that government should not meddle in the economy but should leave us alone. So, now that the economy is in crisis, we therefore deserve to be first in line.

Second, money for our family will have a positive ripple effect throughout the economy. If we received a generous bailout package, we would certainly purchase a new and more fuel-efficient car. We would also commit to spending the entire amount on other much-needed consumer and service items that will sustain many other businesses. For example, we would act on our plans to remodel our backyard patio. Dollar for dollar, the economic stimulus provided to our family would have far-reaching effects.

Third, offering our family a generous financial package would restore confidence in the economy. We have lived in our community for many years and have a large and influential circle of friends and professional colleagues. We recently asked many of these upstanding people how they would respond if our family declared bankruptcy. Without exception, our personal friends and business associates stated that they would be very upset. Conversely, if we received a bailout, they affirmed that their faith in the economy would be strengthened, and that they, too, would seek bailout money to maintain their current levels of spending.

Fourth, supporting our family would please a significant number of Democrats and Republicans. We have friends in both parties and have contributed to candidates on both sides of the aisle. So an early and generous response to our financial hardship would trigger bipartisan support.

In closing, I want to stress that our family would expect to be held accountable for every dollar. Once we receive a U.S. Treasury check, we promise to spend it quickly and efficiently in 2009 and will account for those expenditures on our 2010 tax forms. We firmly believe that an upturn in the economy will follow within 12 to 18 months.

Note to the Obama administration: If the economy doesn't respond, it does not mean that the decision to bail out our family was wrong. It simply means the amount was too small. But we patriotically pledge not to request additional financial support until 2010.

• Gerzon, a distinguished fellow at the EastWest Institute in New York, is the author of "Leading Through Conflict."

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