Bail Out the Writers!

Silicon Valley Bank is the least of our worries

Paul Greenberg

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Photo by Chris Spiegl on Unsplash

Another year, another bank bailout. With Silicon Valley Bank in flames, Credit Suisse on the dole and a host of other mid-range financial institutions teetering on the edge of solvency we are again forced to look deep into the nation’s economic infrastructure and fleece the taxpayer for one more go around the “oh shoot, sorry” loop of banker malfeasance.

As someone employed far outside the periphery of the financial services industry I am simply aghast. Not that we’ve been re-bilked by billionaires to carry their shit-stinking load. But rather that we seem to have once again missed an opportunity to really address a critical infrastructure problem imperiling American families everywhere.

I think therefore it’s time that you all considered my modest proposal:

We must now go boldly forward and bail out the writers.

What would such a bailout consist of? In the 1930s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the Federal Writers’ Project, under which some 6,000 out-of-work writers were hired over a period of several years to write guidebooks, oral histories, ethnographies and the like, and in the process “describe America to Americans.” The program not only kept American writers alive but seems to have helped them multiply, to the point where there are now, according to a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, approximately 185,000 people in the United States who support themselves primarily as writers of books, plays, poetry, speeches and other literary matter. Thanks to this group, America has been described and redescribed so many times that I fear a kind of word-based Strategic Defense Initiative is taking shape above us, shielding us from harsher but more realistic foreign words and creating resentment among our allies.

Of course, putting this kind of money on the table would require the strictest of oversight, and for this we could make use of a structure already in place — i.e., the long-suffering spouses and domestic partners of writers.

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Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World paulgreenberg.org