It is early October 2025. My two great-grandchildren, Harold and Lisa, aged seven and a half and six, climb into my lap and say, “Great-grandpa, tell us about the Troubled Asset Relief Program.”
“You mean the bailout?” I ask.
They simultaneously put their hands over their mouths and scream, “It wasn’t a bailout. They told us that in school. It was a relief program.”
“Did your teachers tell you if the bail ... I mean the relief program worked?” I ask.
“Oh, yes,” both great-grandchildren answer.
“But wasn’t there a terrible depression afterwards?” They didn’t know; they hadn’t heard of one. “Didn’t they tell you that Goldman Sachs got most of the original bailout money? Treasury Secretary Paulson had been the previous chairman of Goldman Sachs. Some cynical people thought that looked fishy but Secretary Paulson vigorously denied any impropriety, so that was the end of that.
“But then, a few weeks later, Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, saying that Goldman Sachs had gotten all the bail ... er, relief, each wanted $250 billion relief themselves. Then General Motors and Ford both announced that they were out of money and were too big to fail and demanded bailouts for themselves.
“Then California said it was broke and needed $7 billion. Next came Israel, and then Albania (which only wanted $250,000). The entire world was in a panic and China announced that it intended to redeem the trillion dollars of U.S. debt it held.
“We might have survived even that, but then the unbelievable happened. The one thing that couldn’t happen did: Microsoft announced that it had been bought by Apple. The country collapsed.”
The kids were eager to hear more, but I told Harold it was time to gather some firewood. It would get pretty cold in the cave after dark. “Make Lisa go,” Harold said. “It hurts my feet.”
“Look Harold, if there were any shoes available I would get you some. And on your way, check the rabbit traps if you want anything to eat tonight.”
Willis Cook is a retired electrical engineer who was born in New Orleans and grew up in the Mississippi Delta. He lives on Varner Road in Franklin County.
For all of the editorials and columns, see the Oct. 15 edition of The Commerce News.