Okay, so they were quick to jump on his mathematical ability, but, despite the little thanks Russell Crowe received, his Aussie fans know that he almost solved America’s financial crisis for them.
Sporting a distinctly non-Gladiator hair cut, Crowe told Jay Leno’s Tonight Show that, instead of the government looking for $700 billion to pay out the financial institutions, they should only look for $300 million and give $1 million to each one of the 300 million US citizens (episode aired 29 September 2008).
“Hah! He can’t count and he can’t multiply”, they said. “$1 million to each citizen is not $300 million; that’s only $1 each, you fool!” Instead of $300 million (3 + eight zeros), he needs $300 trillion (3 + 14 zeros), which is far more than the government’s desired $700 billion (7 + 11 zeros).
But, of course, as the rest of the world knows (and, indeed, someone as good at maths as our Russ would certainly know—remember A Beautiful Mind?), outside of the USA, a billion is a million millions, not a thousand millions, and, as most outside of the USA may not know, a US trillion is equal to an imperial billion.
And so we can rescue our hero from his present-day moment in the circus in front of a crowd roaring for his death if we allow for a slip of the tongue (i.e. he meant $300 billion), and his reckoning to be in the Australian/English system. Good old Russ was only after 3 +14 zeros instead of (what he had thought the US were after) 7 + 14 zeros. It’s a cheaper solution indeed!
Okay, so all those zeros make such numbers too huge to even contemplate. But in the debate over the nothings, the point seems to have been lost, and when it emerges, the Aussie doesn’t really seem to be the numbskull.
For some time, US financial instutions have been failing, and ordinary people have been walking out on their homes, unable to pay their mortgages. No matter how much economic wherewithall you have, obviously these two facts are somehow related.
It has become so serious, the government has been asking, “What should we do about the situation?” Three solutions seem to be obvious:
- Let the banks fail, and see what actually happens to the world. They tell us it would change life for the worse, but those who have been oppressed by the banks for far too long would really like to taste it and see. After whatever global readjustments would be forced upon us, what if it actually ended up being better?
- The government could bail out the banks. But, hang on, how does that help the ordinary people with the mortgage problems? Doesn’t it keep all their debts outstanding—their homes still lost—the banks still sitting pretty on property, and the rest? Is this really the better world we all want?
- Then there is the voice of Russell’s uncommon sense, despite the mockery from the crowds who are so used to crying for blood: give the money to the people! They can then pay their mortgage out, and, with their debts repaid, the banks will also be better off. Ordinary people can own their own home, breathe a sigh of relief, and then have more money in their pockets to spend. Then everything will be set for a recovering economy. (And they call the guy just another lousy actor!)
Well, the outcome is now known. After a tense week in Congress, on 3 October, the US government voted that up to $700 billion (7 + 11 zeros) be spent to buy up mortgage-backed and other securities from the stressed financial firms. The banks were rescued. But there was nothing about the ordinary person stressed from the mortgage in that scenario; their debts remain.
Now, of course, those who understand economics more than Saint Russ will have their much more complicated formulas and equations. But, in the end, they need to explain to the ordinary person why it is an essential part of the plan for the brave new world to keep ordinary people in debt to the financial institutions. That is what we all want to know.
Forces beyond ourselves; evil powers—evil, because they are making life worse, not better; forces working behind ordinary life to keep people in slavery … hey, have we discovered in the present banking system another manifestation of the new principalities and powers?
No wonder they won’t allow themselves to collapse and start again! No wonder they rescue themselves and maintain the ruin of the people.