Where is My Bailout? An Open Letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

Though this letter is written as a tongue-in-cheek response to the financial crisis, the facts stated in the open letter to the Treasury Secretary are sadly true.


Dear Treasury Secretary Paulson,

     Being that the Treasury Department has been very generous in assisting this nation’s banks, financial institutions and automobile manufacturers, I am writing this letter to you in the hope that I personally could be included in the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP). As my detailed financial information will illustrate, I am of the opinion that I qualify for the federal aid package that is being offered to the financial and auto industries.

     Allow me to elaborate.

     Firstly, let me unequivocally state that I am not one of those individuals who have been accused of over extending themselves in assuming a mortgage that was beyond my means. I never had enough money for a down payment on a home and never have contemplated participating in the quintessential American dream. I had always considered myself a middle-class guy, a sort of “Joe the Plumber” with a graduate degree. I paid my bills on time just like most Americans. I paid my taxes and contributed positively to my community as an educator.

    Then last year, a near fatal illness threw me into a 2 month coma. Needless to say, I lost my job, apartment, car and medical insurance in the process. My family was forced to sell most of my possessions in order to make my funeral arrangements. Thankfully, I survived and walked away from this episode literally with only the clothes in my closet. I was forced to move in with relatives.

Since my discharge from the hospital in December 2007, I have been denied social security disability benefits and Medicaid. I am grateful though for the one-time payment of $350 dollars in food stamps in March of 2008. All the food I purchased with those funds is gone now. I have nearly exhausted my administrative appeals for disability benefits and have been forced to seek employment in my field despite my progressively failing eye sight and other health complications. I owe the hospital that saved my life nearly $900,000. I have been trying to establish a payment plan with the hospital. I have calculated that if I pay $100.00 a month, I will satisfy my medical debt in January of the year 2759. I am not too sure that I will live that long, hence, my sense of urgency on this matter.

     Not having the expected revenue coming in has had a deleterious affect on my family. With mounting child support payments in arrears, I am coming perilously close to running afoul with the State of Florida’s Department of Revenue. Should my bailout request be denied, I am at risk of having my driver’s license revoked, my (non-existent) wages garnished, or worse, face imprisonment for payment non-compliance. In the past, I gladly applied my income tax return refunds to pay any arrears in my child support. But, since the law has changed regarding student loan repayment, the Department of Education now gets first dibs at my refund check. In essence, the tax refund checks that would have been spent on economic stimulating purchases such as food and clothing was instead appropriated by the government itself. As a result of these circumstances and potential consequences, I am asking that my request be put on a “fast track” for approval.

     I cannot file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As you well are aware, the changes in the bankruptcy law by the Bush administration, limits my options for bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy requirements now force me to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, meaning that I would have to repay all my debts within 5 years. That would make my yearly payments approximately $200,000 per year. Again, another clear justification for the expeditious approval of my bailout.

     Once approved, I am asking you to extend my repayment schedule much in the same way that you have allowed AIG to extend their loan repayment from 2 to 5 years. In addition, since the Treasury has conceded to AIG a reduction in the interest rate on their loan from 11% to 3%, I humbly request a similar reduction on my interest rate on my defaulted credit cards from 20% to somewhere in the 15-16% range as part of my bailout. I am cognizant that as a member of the middle class, I must be responsible and pay my fair share. Lastly, I will pledge that any and all funds provided to me will be strictly used to satisfy creditors and will not be used to provide myself a bonus for succeeding in surviving this crisis.

     I must admit that I, like the financial institutions, have engaged in unecessary risks. While the banks and others participated in the unpredictable practice of credit swaps and other forms of arbitrage, I have been known to buy a lotto ticket or two on occasion in the hope of a one time windfall. I realize that over the past 3 quarters this has lead to an unnecessary loss of about $50.00 dollars but I can assure you that I will refrain from this risky practice once my bailout is approved.  

     I know that Congress has taken exception to the Department giving out these funds without disclosing who exactly is receiving this assistance. Rest assured Mr. Secretary, in the interest of transparency, I hereby authorize you to tell anyone that I received bailout money.

     I would also like to be included in the automobile industry’s bailout plan. Since the Department is poised to give them $50 billion dollars on top of the $25 billion they have already received in September, I am requesting an automobile bailout of $25,000 so I can purchase an automobile. The amount of my bailout request constitutes a mere .000033% of the total bailout given to the automakers. Should this request be approved, I promise to purchase my car from a US automaker making this a win-win for both myself and the auto industry. I will do my best to stimulate the economy by buying gasoline, now that it is somewhat affordable.

     I do understand that you have to maintain fiduciary responsibility in all your decisions. And considering this request should be no exception. For this reason, I have taken the liberty of providing you and the Department a complete breakdown for my bail out request and how my request will financially impact the total Trouble Asset Relief Program.


Total amount requested:

Medical Bills Bailout:      $900,000 or 0001285% of the total bailout.

Child Support Bailout:      $50,000 or 0000071% of the total bailout.

Credit Card Debt Bailout: $25,000 or 0000035% of the total bailout.

Automobile Bailout:          $25,000 or 000033%  of the the total auto bailout.    


     In closing, I want to reassure you that I am fully aware that we live in a free market capitalist society. We are not a socialist nation. It is not the government’s job to infuse capital into businesses thus nationalizing the industries where these investments are made. But, since you are going to do it anyway, I would be grateful should I become a beneficiary of this new practice.











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