Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lessons Learned from the Bennett Bailout

Earlier, we posted an in-depth discussion of the Marvel Universe's Bennett Bailout. To refresh your memory: former construction tycoon, current newspaper owner, and just ludicrously wealthy entrepreneur Dexter Bennett had somehow managed to persuade the United States federal government to award The DB, perhaps New York City's most prominent newspaper, a financial bailout.

Now that the bailout debacle is behind us (or so I think), it is important to look back and reflect on the lessons learned.

1) The public is fickle and easily swayed, but largely against bailouts.

NYC stickin' it to the manAmazing Spider-Man #613 by Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta

Unlike the real world, the economy can be used to spread fear and paranoia in comic books. Not only that--it can be done by a supervillain.

Where's the actual public on this? Well in March 2009, a CBS News poll reported that 53% of the public were against giving more bailout to financial institutions, up from 44% only three months prior. I haven't seen any more recent polls about the bailouts, but it isn't a stretch to assume people have grown more disillusioned over the past year. A reaction such as the one in New York City is sudden, yet not really shocking (pun intended).

However, the overwhelmingly harsh response from NYC is interesting here. For one thing, citizens seem to be confusing Dexter Bennett for a Wall Street guy and seem to be conflating financial institutions and banks with news organizations. It's one thing to be hesitant in providing more money to institutions that individuals believe were the primary source of the recession, but it's quite another to be upset with the The DB. It actually seems like the citizens are rallying not so much against Wall Street, but against all rich people in general.

Of course, it's probably that New Yorkers are upset to see their taxpayer money wasted frivolously on organizations that they don't believe need to be bailed out. But then their problem isn't exactly with Dexter Bennett, but with the Federal Government and its policies.

2) The public is largely uninformed about, well, everything.

Spidey be rollin'It's a sad day when people think that Spider-Man (who incidentally did not reveal his identity and is opposed to the Superhuman Registration Act of 2006) actually cuts a federal salary from the Avengers and pays no taxes on it. First of all, we know that Tony Stark pays a significant amount of taxes. Second, how would that even work? Would the Avengers hand him a check endorsed over to "Spider-Man," which he would then take and deposit into a Spider-Man bank account? And unless people actually think that Spider-Man is some sort of alien with no alter ego, he does pay taxes as Peter Parker.

3) Placing trust in Wall Street will only lead to destruction.

The DB is doneAmazing Spider-Man #614 by Mark Waid and Paul Azaceta

These are important life lessons. How many times have supervillains led the public against its superheroes using the prospect of a bleak political or economic future? I've said it before and I'll say it again. The best way to fight villainy is to educate citizens, especially in matters of the economy.

Oh yeah, and don't trust Wall Street.

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