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Burn, M*****f*****, Burn

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire
We don’t need no water
Let the m***** f***** burn.
Burn, m*****f*****, burn.

Anyone who partied during the 70’s and 80’s remembers this old school chant, which would usually get started at the height of a really good party. Some DJ worth his or her salt would seamlessly mix a slower groove like “Genius of Love” along with “Funkin’ for Jamaica”, and “Word Up”, ending in a crescendo topped off by “Got To Give It Up, ” “Thighs High,” and “One Nation Under A Groove,” and somebody would start off:

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire . . .

You couldn’t have paid anyone to get off the dance floor at that point. We don’t need no water, let the m*****f***** burn. People of my generation often forgot the last part of the chant: Burn, m*****f*****, burn.

Well, quite frankly, the last part of the chant has been forgotten by the barons of Wall Street who are pimping Secretary Paulson and Fed Chair Bernanke for a bailout. Wall Street players like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and the like not only partied, they threw the party. Now, after they made some money, drank the liquor, and screwed the women, so to speak, they want someone else to pay for the hall rental and the DJ.

As an American taxpayer who gets taxed out the behind, as a homebuyer who got priced out of the housing market during the run-up in the housing bubble, and as a plain ol’ citizen, I say, “Hell, no.” Or, to borrow from my Southern roots, “HAY-YELL, NAW!”

I oppose a bailout for Wall Street AND for Main Street, with the possible exception of providing assistance to homeowners who actually lived in their homes and were defrauded by mortgage brokers. Everybody else – from the Donald Trump wannabes and the Barons of High Finance -- can pound sand, IMHO. But if anyone’s going to get bailed out, it should be homeowners, not Wall Street.

The whole housing bubble and its aftermath can be analogized to a very, very bad college fraternity party.

Let’s say that a broke college fraternity, perhaps named Alpha Sigma Kappa (ASK), decides that it wants to hold a party to accomplish three goals: Make money, get drunk, and get laid. In other words, have a great time. But they have no money. So, they offer to pay for the hall rental from their university and the DJ with a percentage of the party proceeds. Their strategy to make the party a success: Let women in for free before 9:00 pm. Women attract men, men pay to get in, the fraternity makes money. Sounds like a plan, eh?

Well, what happens if something gets lost in the execution? Let’s say that a savvy party person – shall we call her Smart Girl? – knows how to play the party game better than the brothers of ASK. You get in early and for free, get guys to buy you drinks, and leave while the party is at its height to go to the next, better party. You’ve essentially had a good time off of someone else’s money. So when Smart Girl arrives at 8:59 with her crew of good looking women, the men of ASK let them in for free, thinking: 1) They’ll attract other paying men; and 2) They might sleep with us for free.

Smart Girl and her crew, knowing how the men of ASK think, get in the party for free, get the party going, and get the men of ASK to buy them drinks because the men of ASK think that if they get Smart Girl and her crew drunk enough, they’ll get laid. Just when the DJ mixes “Word Up” into “Got To Give It Up,” Smart Girl gives the signal to her crew that it’s time to leave. Liquored up for free, courtesy of the men of ASK, they excuse themselves just in time to avoid getting dry humped and to move on to a better party. When asked by the men of ASK if they’ll be back, they lie. “Of course we’ll be back. We just promised the Omegas that we’d come to their set.” And off they go into the night, having had a good time on someone else’s money.

At the other end of the spectrum is Easy Girl. She and her crew had to pool their work study money to put gas in a friend’s hooptie to get to the party. They arrive at 11:00 pm knowing damn well the party is more than half over, and expect to get in free. Because they look easy, the men of ASK let them in for free, thinking that the more women, the more money, and that perhaps they’ll still get laid. Before you know it, Easy Girl is drunk off her ass, getting dry humped on the dance floor by fraternity men and non-fraternity men, dancing with her cheap shoes off and in her stocking feet, her perm pretty much sweated out, chanting along with ASK:

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire
We don’t need no water
Let the m*****f***** burn . . . .

Before she knows it, the lights go up, and her crew is nowhere to be found. Easy Girl’s crew begged her to leave with them, but no, she was enjoying her newfound popularity and said she’d find a ride home with her “new” friends, the men of ASK. And, sure, they’ll give you a ride home, but it’ll cost you. . . .

The folks from the Student Affairs Office arrive to inspect the hall and collect payment. But ASK comes up short. Why? Because they let too many people in the party for free – people who couldn’t have afforded to come in the first place. People like Easy Girl.

Next thing you know, the men of ASK are asking the remaining partygoers who got in for free like Easy Girl to pay up, but Easy Girl and folks like her didn’t have much if any money to begin with. They came to the party expecting to get in free and have a good time on someone else’s money. They just got there too late and stayed too long.

In case you don’t get the metaphor, here goes:

ASK represents Wall Street.

Smart Girl represents the real estate investors who got in early, used other people’s money, and got out before the party got too good.

Easy Girl represents the zero-down homebuyers and wannabe flippers who came in late with no money, expected to have a good time on someone else’s money, and when the bill came due, had nothing to pay it with.

And the DJ? Some would say he was Alan Greenspan. Because a party can only last as long as the DJ keeps it going.

Now, imagine ASK going to the Dean of Student Affairs of their university to plead their case: They didn’t make the money they thought they would off of the party, despite the fact that they threw the party, and now they want a bailout. Could the university spot them the rental fee?

Here are the lessons:

Wall Street: A party must always, always pay for itself. Preferably, it makes a profit, too. But don't expect a bailout.

Easy Girl: If a fraternity lets you into a party for free, they're gonna wanna screw you.

And if I were the Dean of Student Affairs in this hypothetical, I would lean across my desk and whisper to the men of ASK:

The roof, the roof, the roof was on fire
You didn’t want no water, let the m*****f***** burn.
Burn, m*****f*****, burn.

And that’s what the American people need to say to Wall Street.

Don’t forget the last part of the chant:

Burn, m*****f*****, burn.


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