September 17, 2008
Henry Merritt “Hank” Paulson Jr.
Secretary of the Treasury
United States of America
I hope you don’t mind me calling you Hank. You seem to be such a nice guy and so friendly with businessman types that I thought I’d be rather informal with you right from the start and be your buddy if you will. I’ve been reading quite a bit about you lately Hank, and I think it is just great that you are coming to the rescue of all of these private companies who have financial problems, even if you are sometimes taking them by force like with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and even if you are using my taxpayer money to do so. It seems like you have the “country first” bigger picture in mind. I think I understand the idea that if one of them fails, many more people will feel the pain, even though you didn’t think that the brothers over at Lehman deserved the benefits of your funds (excuse me, taxpayer funds).
So I own this small gas station. It’s in a rural stretch and it’s been in my family for nearly 160 years. While it’s no big insurance or mortgage firm, it is important to me, and my family. But it is most important to the hundreds of customers and taxpayers that count on me to be open every day to serve them gas, coffee, and a friendly smile. The reason for my letter, Hank, is that my gas station needs help with some short-term bills and I simply don’t have enough cash to get by. Opening the station with $50.00 in the cash drawer may not happen in a few days if I don’t get help, so I need a small loan to get me through the rough patch. I promise I will pay it back with interest, but boy, that 11.5 % rate you gave AIG is a bit rough!
There is no other gas station within a 35 miles radius, so our presence is very important. Since the price of gas is now over $4.00 now-a-days, it could cost someone nearly $10.00 just to get to another station, or worse yet, run out and get stuck in the middle of nowhere, creating other rippling events. I figure that our customers, who, by the way are all U.S. taxpayers, truly benefit from our presence. Quite frankly, we are too important to fail. If we fail, the station 35 miles up the road may fail also, and then the one after that as well. Pretty soon, a pandemic could develop and affect many more taxpaying gas station customers for miles. I can’t imagine that you would want that to happen, would you Hank?
If you want, please feel free to install your own manager to oversee things, even if he never ran a gas station before. My wife could use a break anyway. I do have some things out back that we could sell to raise cash. They consist of a stack of old tires (some have pretty good tred left on them) and I have some tools and old signs to sell as well.
I do have a slight confession to make though, for something I did that was almost a one-time thing that may have weakened my cash position. I just love the gambling tables, and over the years I have lost a few hundred here and there. I am sorry to say that this debt is unrecoverable. But I promise that if you give me this loan, I will not undertake this type of risk again ever. In fact, you can send one of your regulators around every so often to examine my books. I’ll even give them some free coffee while their here if that is okay with you Hank?
Please let me know soon as we may not have enough money to put in the cash register to open by Monday. Maybe we can meet and pull an all-nighter to work this out, then, announce it the next day before the other stations get wind of it?
A taxpayer in need