Toxic Assets



BJ, proprietor of Bubba’s Bait, Boats and Wrecks, called to talk about how to get the government to buy his toxic assets.  You might recall his idea to get rich by creating a matrimonial web site titled,  The ads featured a man with a pronounced rural accent saying, “I got my wife on e-redneck woman dot com.  She can name every Hank Williams Jr. song ever recorded, has a 167 bowling average, can fry up ever kind of animal I kill and smokes off-brand cigarettes.”


But I digress; the conversation in question involved his confusion over what a toxic asset happens to be.  The term seems to be an oxymoron.   An asset is a property to which a value can be assigned.  Toxic on the other hand refers to something that contains poison.  After I tried to explain toxic assets to BJ he asked a question to which I have no answer.  “Why would the government buy toxic assets?”

I inquired what toxic asset BJ owned.  He then informed me that he had purchased Lummus Pump and Dump from old man Lummus.  BJ went on to say that pumping out septic tanks and anything else that was full of, shall we say for the sake of propriety, human waste certainly seemed like a good business.


BJ recalled how old man Lummus always bought the most raffle tickets for the yearly hog raffle to benefit the 4H Club and every year he donated the meat for the annual Pig and Grits Festival.   He also talked about how the Lummus boys went to Vo-Tech school and maybe could of gone to college if they hadn’t gotten caught winching up a cow to the school’s roof two weeks before graduation.  The cow’s owner said she never gave much milk after that.  It may be worth noting that the local paper’s front page photograph of that cow two thirds of the way up the side of the two story school building created the greatest newspaper sales in town history.


 Of course BJ mentioned how the Lummus girl, Flora Mae, was always putting on airs until that one time her Daddy brought her to school in the big waste disposal truck.  That wouldn’t have been too bad except D’lo Harrison snuck up behind it and opened the hose nozzle.  The smell was so bad they had to evacuate the school and almost nobody could eat in the cafeteria the rest of the year.  Things weren’t greatly improved by that saying all the boys repeated, “Most girls won’t, but Flora Mae.”


After convincing BJ that a septic tank pumping business was not what the government meant by toxic assets I made one final effort to explain the concept.  “Remember the time you wanted to add a sushi bar to your bait shop even though I told you that people who eat sushi don’t understand bait and the people who use bait think sushi is bait and they darn well don’t eat it.  Remember how you went to the banker and he was smart enough to say no.  Well, if the banker had been dumb enough to finance your sushi bar at the bait shop and you went bankrupt, then your business would be a toxic asset.” 


“As to why the government would want to buy your bankrupt sushi and bait business, just think of it as dumb and dumber.” 


It’s not that BJ isn’t smart but you have to talk to him within his frame of reference.   

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