by Rich Broderick • 10/21/08 • America might be worth a lot more if it were broken up and its assets sold off piecemeal.
A friend of mine – the editor of a business magazine – brought an interesting fact to my attention. The Sovereign Fund of Dubai (I think it was Dubai – I get my Arab emirates confused sometimes) has some $850 billion in its kitty. That’s enough, my friend pointed out, for the tiny sultanate to be able to purchase the 100 largest publicly traded companies headquartered in Minnesota – and still have more than $250 billion left over.
And that was back in September, before the stock market crashed. Today, the Dubai fund might have enough on hand to purchase the largest 100 publicly traded companies in the United States. I’m not sure – my calculator’s broken.
Myself, even with a small stock portfolio, I managed to lose the equivalent of a year’s worth of tuition to the University of Minnesota (where my darling daughter is currently in her junior year) in the past two months. Not much, but a significant amount in my household.
Which got me thinking. We’ve heard concerns about the Chinese or the Saudis or the Japanese buying up America’s commercial assets and real estate. But the way things are going, in the not-too-distant future we may be _begging_ the Chinese and the Saudis and the Japanese to do the same in exchange for a warm meal and a place to spend the night. So why not just go whole hog and put the entire country into Chapter 13 receivership? With our combined $50 trillion of public and private debt, America would be worth a lot more if it were broken up and its assets sold off piecemeal than if we try to keep the enterprise together and hope for a turnaround.
And I’m not just talking about putting our dwindling number of operational factories on the block or the Sears Tower in Chicago or General Motors, which we’d have to offer as a loss leader anyway. I’m talking _all_ of our assets. For example:
**Yosemite National Park**: Hey, the Japanese love it. How much do you think that baby’s worth? We could even break down the park into smaller pieces, offering the waterfall separately from the rest of it.
**The Presidential Seal**: If Sarah Palin can auction off the Alaska’s gubernatorial Piper Cub, why can’t we do the same with the PS? Of course, it might be good to wait a few months for its value to recover after its eight year association with George Bush.
**The Electoral College**: People have been arguing for years that we should dump this anachronism and now is no time for sentimental attachments. Surely this relic of the 18th century would find a ready market among antiquarians. If nothing else, maybe we could sell it to the Iraqis. They could use it to replace some of the priceless Sumerian artifacts that were looted in 2003 while we were too busy guarding the entrance to the oil ministry.
**The states of the Old Confederacy**: I don’t know about you, but I think we should have gotten rid of these dogs back in 1861. Better late than never!
**Autumn in New England**: Act now and we’ll throw in the other three seasons as well, PLUS a set of Ginzo steak knives all for the same low price!
**The original copies of the Constitution**: Hell, we aren’t using it anyway.
You get the picture. If we put a fraction of the creativity that went into inventing “creative” investment instruments the past 10 years, we could come up with the sale to end all sales –
**Hurry! One week only! America’s Going Out of Business Sale! Everything Must Go! No reasonable offer refused!**
_(Sorry, cash only. No checks or credit cards. All sales final.)_