Monday, July 27, 2009

an offer we can't refuse

Maybe I'm being a little paranoid here, but lately I've been thinking an awful lot about Michael Corleone.

In the Godfather II, Michael Corleone, the head of the Corleone crime family, was about to be brought before a Senate committee investigating the allegations of his powerful organization. One of the members of that committee was Senator Pat Geary, the Nevada senator who was strongly opposed to Michael Corleone's presence in the powerful gambling industry.

The Corleones knew that Senator Geary was powerful and his opposition would be detrimental to their operations; his support was crucial.

The problem that Senator Geary had, though, was that he cheated on his wife. Frequently. With a hooker. Bad idea jeans, Senator, because in one such encounter with the particular hooker he frequented, she mysteriously and suddenly died while he was passed out on the bed. And the cardinal rule of politics is that you should never get caught with a dead girl or a live boy. The senator had a problem on his hands, and he knew it. But then comes a knock at the door. Tom Hagen, Michael Corleone's consigliere, walks in and assures the Senator that the Corleone family owns the hotel at which they are staying and no one will find out what happened. Consider it a favor, eh?

The audience knows full well that the entire episode was a setup. One of Corleone's men drugged the senator to knock him out and killed the girl. But it really doesn't matter if Senator Geary was setup. He can't exactly go running to the police to say that someone killed the hooker in his bed.

Bought. Paid. Owned. Senator Geary was given an offer he couldn't refuse and was now in the pocket of Michael Corleone.

I am reminded of this scene with all the crises that have befallen this country lately. Housing crisis, banking crisis, automotive crisis, insurance crisis, health care crisis, and on and on. All of these crises arguably created by the mismanagement and over-regulation of the government who then steps in to save the day by offering its help. But, oh yeah, you'll have to take our direction if you want our assistance. We'll make the rules from now on. Move over, that's my seat, Mr. Chairman.

Ronald Reagan once said that the scariest nine words in the English language are, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

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