1. Archive

From your bank to our economy, via Nigeria

I don't know why the brothers Bush don't use me as a resource more often.

Poor Jeb got stuck with the bullet train amendment in the 2000 election (When George got stuck with the White House) and then, last November, the voters handed him the costly class size amendment, which, like the train, he hasn't quite yet figured out how to derail.

George is stuck with a downward spiraling stock market coupled with a skyrocketing deficit and needs to come up with the tens of billions of dollars it will cost to fight a war for which nobody else is apt to offer to pay.

Old people can't afford their prescription drugs; yuppies can't afford gas for their SUVs, and doctors can't afford their insurance premiums. Things are starting to look like the last days of the Nixon monarchy when the government's job was to convince laid-off steelworkers and pilots sitting in gas lines with $90 worth of groceries going bad in their glove compartments that they never had it so good.

And we have, of course, been promised tax breaks . . . tee-hee.

How all of this can go on without anyone figuring out the obvious and easy answer is beyond me, and those in charge need to look no further than the Internet, which, of course, we all know is an Al Gore invention.

Since the early 1980s, millions of Americans, especially in more recent years, those with computers have been approached hundreds of times by people just begging for the chance to give away millions of dollars.

Although most of the generous people, usually survivors of assassinated high-level governmental or corporate functionaries, live in Nigeria, the spirit of willingness to enrich Americans has also recently spread to places such as the Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, South Africa and several republics formerly part of the Soviet Union.

All any enterprising American has to do, he or she is advised by letter or e-mail, is to help the writer violate several national and international laws by hiding stolen money in his or her bank account for a brief period after which he or she will receive a percentage as a fee for the assistance.

The amounts vary, but they are usually in the $12-million to $38-million range, and the payoff for the helpful American (all you have to do is give them enough information that they can take every cent out of your bank account) is promised in the millions of dollars.

Usually we are assured that it is morally all right to help the writer because the funds were sequestered from a corrupt government or company and since we are helping a _ at least slightly _ less corrupt person, we are on the side of goodness and light. So if all of us do what we are being asked to, and only one per customer please, there is no need to be greedy, then let's say every breathing American winds up with $10-million or so.

Trust me, the IRS will notice the extra $10-million or so, so just the income taxes on it alone will be a big shot in the arm to the federal revenue base, and then when we start spending all of that money the sales and luxury tax revenues will go through the ceiling so Jeb can limit class size to two students per teacher and build his bullet train on platinum wheels, and George can go to war against whomever he wishes _ as long as he doesn't accidentally blow up Nigeria in the process.

Everybody will start buying more stocks and stuff so the rich, also, will get richer, making this the first time in history that trickle-up economics has been given a try.

The whole Nigerian thing is of course is a scam, one that has been around for 20 years and has snared a surprising number of otherwise intelligent people. It is called, in the scam business, the 419 Scam after the relevant section in the Nigerian Criminal Code. At least now that they are branching out to other countries, it will take some of the heat off of the honest people in Nigeria.

I have to say all of this so someone doesn't read the first half of this column, respond to one of those e-mails and then blame me and the Times for losing all their money. But if you are that desperate to empty your bank account, just send it directly to me. It might not help the nation's economy, but it would sure help mine.