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What would you do if someone stole your bike -- walked up and grabbed it off your porch and walked away with it? Surely you'd want to get it back. And if they left it sitting on their own porch, you'd have every right to go up there and take it, for it is your bike, and becomes no less yours for having been stolen. And, providing you had obtained it legally in the first place, the full weight of the law ought to be at your back as you do so. Now, suppose it is Bill Smith who has stolen your bike; would the situation be any different if instead of Bill Smith stealing your bike with his own grubby mitts, he told his big brother Bob, go get me that bike? Suppose Bill Smith could make out a great charity case, that his bike had a flat tire and was too tired to walk all the way home, and couldn't be let to sleep on the street? Well Bill Smith's hardship is no answer to your lawful ownership of your own bike (and never mind that Bill's flat tire came from Bill gleefully pounding his bike through a field of jagged rocks and cacti). Oh, he could ask you for a loan of it, and you might give it to him, but you don't owe him anything, and so if he takes it, or has someone else come and take it and give it to him, you've every right to take it back. And even more right to go right up to Bob Smith and demand that he get that bike back.

And look what Wall Street did, in the Autumn of 2008 and the Spring of 2009. They came to the government hat in hand, and they begged that their banking businesses were going bankrupt (their masters having run them ragged over the sharp rocks), and that the whole country would go down the drain if they didn't get somebody's bike to ride home. All of our bike's actually. And Wall Street's big brother went and got all the bikes and gave them to Wall Street, so Wall Street didn't have to sleep in the street; and now Wall Street is back on its feet, with all our bikes all shined up on its porch. Is Wall Street planning on giving us back our bikes? Seems not. Seems like they're glad to have them and keep them and pretend they came honestly by them, and if somebody ever suggests that a bike or two ought to be returned, Wall Street turns on the waterworks and the fear machine and starts rumbling about market instability and dire consequences.

Well fuck Wall Street. I want my god damned bike back, and I think most every citizen whose bike was transplanted as if by a thief in the night wants their bike back, and you know what else? I think we've a right to it, every one of us, to go up to Wall Street (or one of its outposts spread across the land) and demand our bike back; and if they won't have that, to take our bike back, to take from them whatever matches the value of what they've taken from us. And, yes, I know the government won't tolerate that, won't hesitate to jail whosoever should take back what's theirs and was taken from them and given to Wall Street, so perhaps we really ought to be going straight to the source, straight to the government and telling it, go to Wall Street and tell them you're taking back all the bikes, and if they refuse to return them you'll simply open the floodgates to allowing we the people to come and get them back themselves.

Suppose that Wall Street didn't steal your bike.

Suppose that you had a bunch of bikes, and that the government took a share of those bikes for its own purposes... to make bike racks and build roads for you to bike on and provide health care for old people who fell off of their bikes. And suppose there was an industry whose purpose it was to facilitate the movement of bikes between different bike-owning entities. Now suppose that industry constantly badgered the government, saying that the government was burdening it with needless bike safety regulations, and that deregulating it would really allow it to increase the overall number of bikes available to the government's citizens. And suppose the industry promised the government some shiny new bikes in exchange for that deregulation.

Now suppose that the industry badly mismanaged the country's bikes, to the point that many of them were so broken as to be unusable - I mean you couldn't even put a baseball card in the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle when you pedaled - and there were so few bikes and so much uncertainty that it threatened every bike in existence! And the industry looked to the government, who was the only one with any power to fix the bike situation. And in response, the government passed a law called, say, the Troubled Axle Recovery Program, which provided an influx of bikes to the industry in order to stabilize the bike situation in the country and allow bikes to move more freely between entities. And let's say that the government gave out 245 billion bikes, and got back more than ninety percent of those bikes back when everything was said and done. That sounds like a lot of bikes missing, but in reality it's less than the number of bikes the government gives out to its senior citizens every two weeks.

Let's also suppose that while this was all going down, it came to light that not only was it the deregulation that caused all of the problems, but that many people in the industry were also engaged in fraud and other illegal activities. And let's suppose that when the government tried to impose tighter regulations on the industry, not only did the industry fight back, but so did many of the people in government who had been given shiny new bikes, as well as many of the citizens who side with those people in government. And let's suppose that despite all of the allegations of illicit activity, nearly nothing has been done to bring the wrongdoers to justice.

Now, who should you be angry with? Should you be angry with the bike transfer and management industry, who acted in their own best interests and tried to acquire as many shiny bikes for themselves as possible, when you yourself (well, perhaps not you specifically, but almost everyone you know) are actively involved in the same quest? Or should you be upset at the government, for allowing all of this to happen, and then doing very little to prevent it from happening again.

Hmmm.

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