A View From Inside The Sausage Factory

…from someone who escaped:

In Washington, he used his BlackBerry to determine the bailout sum presented to Congress. His arithmetic: “We have $11 trillion residential mortgages, $3 trillion commercial mortgages. Total $14 trillion. Five percent of that is $700 billion. A nice round number.”

Looking back, he says, he is more confident about the two-by-sixes.

“Seven hundred billion was a number out of the air,” Kashkari recalls, wheeling toward the hex nuts and the bolts. “It was a political calculus. I said, ‘We don’t know how much is enough. We need as much as we can get [from Congress]. What about a trillion?’ ‘No way,’ Hank shook his head. I said, ‘Okay, what about 700 billion?’ We didn’t know if it would work. We had to project confidence, hold up the world. We couldn’t admit how scared we were, or how uncertain.”

I’m glad he got out, and wish him well in his new life in California. But it doesn’t instill confidence in the government, nor should it.

6 thoughts on “A View From Inside The Sausage Factory”

  1. Oh, man, do I relate to what he’s going through. Twelve years in DC (11.9 too many). When I moved back to Arizona, I found myself just sitting on the back porch, staring at the quail and the cactus for hours on end, letting the sun and the silence cleanse my soul. DC is so fargin toxic.
    I find it laughable, though, that he says that DC is the only place where a person can accomplish something useful or meaningful. I guess all of us laboring out in the world, starting companies, creating jobs, designing and building things, are not accomplishing much.

  2. I always wondered where the original $700 billion figure came from. It was proposed once, and the bill they tried to ram through Congress failed because people were afraid of something so hastily put together. Then they “completely redid” the bill, and it magically came out to be exactly the same number. So it was really just that arbitrary. Wow….

  3. It isn’t just the political types, either. I’ve lived here most of my life and sometimes I feel almost desperate to get somewhere else. It’s a wonderful place in many ways, with good schools and an amazing variety of things to do for children up to adults. But it’s also full of self-involved people with no connection to the place, extraordinary prices for everything, but especially housing, poor drivers, awful traffic, and the place seems to have mostly absorbed the government attitudes of lacksadaisical work coupled with extraordinary concern about minor issues. But to leave I’d have to convince the wife, and myself- we’re both attached to federal contractors and this is the place with the most opportunity for us. Ah well.

  4. KingCranium says:

    “…poor drivers, awful traffic…

    When I worked at the FDIC here in Dallas I’d talk routinely talk to the people that work in the K street building. By far they all seemed to say that the parking was the worst ever. A common commute as it was described to me was to drive an hour from the outlying areas only to park so far away as to have to take another form of public transportation from the parking lot to where you actually work.

  5. Excuse me … he “escaped” … to California?!

    Like a burning man escapes by jumping in an iced over pond.

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