Lots of People Could Use a Cash Infusion
By TOM BROKAW
Barney "Big Un" Baumgartner of Windblown, Wyo., invited the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury Department to take over his business, The Big Un 24 Hour Tow Service and Trophy Taxidermy.
In a handwritten press release, Mr. Baumgartner explained that with winter and hunting season coming on, the good citizens of Windblown would be without his vital services unless he found a way to deal with his escalating debts, fast.
"This is not just about me or my neighbors in Windblown. Heck, we get three or four tourists and out-of-state hunters here every 10 days or so. What if they need a tow or a trophy mount? The consequences are too great to contemplate," Mr. Baumgartner explained.
He'd be willing to let the government have 80% of his business for a quick cash infusion. He thought something in the neighborhood of $1.8 million should do the trick. That would be enough to gas up his two tow trucks, get some new taxidermy stuffing and clean up that overdue account at the Number 10 Saloon and Casino over in Deadwood, S.D.
Treasury Department officials had no comment on Mr. Baumgartner's request, but a source familiar with the response to the bailout of American International Group said Treasury has been inundated with similar requests.
- A pawn shop in Reno, Nev., has an excess supply of eight-track cassette players, flower print shirts, broad white belts and Wayne Newton tapes, having gambled that the '70s would come roaring back. The owner pleaded for a Treasury take-over, arguing, "How can the government stand by and let such a rich part of our American culture simply fade away?"
- The owner of an NFL poster shop in Green Bay, Wis., reports that he has given up on divine intervention and is now asking for Treasury to take over his business in a last-ditch effort to preserve the notion that whatever our differences, we're all Americans.
Asked how his business got into trouble, Karl Andursen of Muledeer, Minn., said he met a man who specialized in printing Minnesota Viking and Chicago Bears posters. Mr. Andursen said the man was willing to bundle his posters and sell them at a discounted rate to anyone who would take over the Green Bay territory.
Mr. Andurson said in the back of his mind he knew that could be risky since Green Bay is sacred ground for Packer fans who wouldn't cheer for the Vikes or the Bears if they were promised a fleet of new snowmobiles and lifetime hunting rights on Brett Favre's farm.
But, as he said, everyone was in the NFL merchandise game and he figured he'd take the territory and after 30 days flip the franchise for a big profit. A year later and he's not made a sale, not one, but who knew?
[Tom-Brokaw] Getty Images
He's offered his complete inventory of Go Bears! and Vikings Rock! posters for 20 cents on the dollar or $500,000 in 30-year Treasury bonds.
- Darlene Dalrymple owner of the Shear Joy Hairstyling and Tattoo Salon in Rockhard, Vt., wrote Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, inviting him and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to her shop for a free trim and tat if they'd also help with her balance sheet.
Ms. Dalrymple said she's very busy, but her expenses somehow always exceed her income. She suspects her boyfriend, who likes to use a lot of Wall Street lingo he picks up watching business channels on TV, is shorting her cash register.
Ms. Dalrymple said her boyfriend also called her a moral hazard, and she'd like Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke to explain exactly what that means.
Mr. Brokaw is the former anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News." His most recent book is "Boom! Voices of the Sixties" (Random House, 2007).
Tom Brokaw: Comedian