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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Before you throw this letter into the proverbial round file, let’s be clear: this is the first time I have ever asked for a bailout from the Federal Reserve. I know what you’re thinking. Why do I deserve your largesse, and I do mean largesse, since I’m asking for five million big ones? The answer is simple. Like many of our nation’s financial institutions, I am simply too big to fail. If investors were allowed to witness the collapse of Freddie, Fannie, and then Andy, I can’t begin to describe what havoc it would wreak on their already frayed nerves. Actually, I can describe it: global financial calamity. I think we can both agree that, to dodge this bullet, ten million dollars is a small price to pay. (I know that I originally asked for five, but since I started writing this letter my financial situation has deteriorated in grave and unexpected ways.)
Andy Borowitz is too big to fail. In the New Yorker, alongside John Cassiday's claim that the Lehman Brothers collapse gave the election to Obama (see also Krugman last night) and a fascinating article on the legal intricacies of trust funds for dogs.
Is it right to give so much money to a dog—or to dogs generally? And what is the limit of such dispensations to pets? Will there come a time when dogs can sue for a new guardian—or to avoid being put to sleep? One philosopher draws a distinction between the needs of Trouble and those of dogs as a whole. Helmsley “did a disservice to the people in the dog world and to dogs generally by leaving such an enormous amount of money for her own dog,” Jeff McMahan, who teaches philosophy at Rutgers University, said. “To give even two million dollars to a single little dog is like setting the money on fire in front of a group of poor people. To bestow that amount of money is contemptuous of the poor, and that may be one reason she did it.


Throughout her life, Leona Helmsley demonstrated not just a lack of affection for her fellow-humans but an absence of understanding as well. The irony is that, for all that her will purports to show her love for Trouble, Leona didn’t seem to understand dogs very well, either. “What is funny about giving all this money to one dog is that it doesn’t deal with the fact that the dog is going to be sad that Leona died,” Elizabeth Harman, who teaches philosophy at Princeton, said. “What would make this dog happy is for a loving family to take it in. The dog doesn’t want the money. The money will just make everyone who deals with the dog strange.”