I know this gal, Ginny Mae.

In her early years, Ginny Mae had everything going for her–good looks, popularity, and she was pretty flush with cash. She was the It girl–everyone in the neighborhood saw her as a success. In fact, you could say Ginny Mae and all she’d accomplished and all she stood for exemplified the very spirit of our great nation. Her ingenuity put a lot of bacon in a lot of frying pans, and the grease from that bacon trickled down to a lot of other industries, oiling a manufacturing and service machine that served as the backbone of national commerce.

As the years passed and times changed, Ginny Mae over-extended herself for one reason or another. Ginny Mae made $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2004 and bragged widely that she had a $25 billion tucked in her mattress, but by the first half of 2005, declared that she had lost $1.1 billion. You see, Ginny Mae had diversified her business, lent money for mortgages, haggled with her unions and apparently came out on the short end of the stick, and faced some stiff competition from the likes of T. Oyota and Hon Da, to whom she lost a formidable chunk of market share while she wasn’t paying attention. Some say that she was hitting the sauce, others say she was addicted to libations of another sort.

The people who used to be in awe of Ginny Mae’s stature were now gossiping on the streets about her sorry condition. “Look what’s become of Ginny Mae,” they’d whisper. “Lordy, she sure did get herself in a mess of trouble! Had my daddy lived to see the finest woman in town reduced to this!”

It was all downhill from there…a few years passed and with them came some changes and more bad choices. And then there was that banking crisis, wrought by people not unlike Ginny Mae who seemed infallible, but tripped over their own big feet and fell flat on their faces. Those folks were Ginny Mae’s last lifeline, and while in the prone position, cut off her cash. She struggled…and then Ginny Mae declared that she was about to give up. Doing so would stop the bacon and the flow of bacon grease…so many relied on Ginny Mae. That’s why the knight in white armor came to call, tapping on Ginny Mae’s door, “I’m from the government, and I am here to help.”* This knight handed her a rucksack filled with $50 billion that had been collected from others to be used for other things.

Some in our neighborhood celebrated the knight’s brave rescue, but others admonished the knight and Ginny Mae for making this strange transaction. They were angry that Ginny Mae, who did not responsibly manage the money she did have, was now taking money they’d freely given for other things. Some knew that if she were spending her money on liquor or drugs that she’d just buy more–padding her pocketbook was just enabling her, they said.

And some others warned Ginny Mae that she would be forever indebted to that knight whose face and motives were hidden securly behind that shiny suit of armour.

Ginny Mae didn’t listen. She took the money and it was gone a lot faster than we all thought it would be. We still whisper and wonder about where it did go…especially now that Ginny Mae can’t pay it back. There is also lots of talk in town about what’s since become of Ginny Mae–if you don’t already know, she filed for bancruptcy today, and will be forced to restructure under guidelines imposed by a court and by the knight, who has a $50 billion interest in Ginny Mae’s affairs. That crafty knight will emerge with a 75% share of Ginny Mae, after pumping another $25 billion into her floundering business.

So now that knight is in control, bossing the boss lady around, telling her what she can make, and under what standards. None of us knows for certain what will become of Ginny Mae now that she’s nothing more than a slave to that knight, but one thing’s for certain, the world will never be the same.

* “The most terrifying words in the English language are, I’m from the government and I am here to help.” Ronald Reagan