The Credit Crunch In Glorious Tomrato-vision

Suspend what you know about the credit crunch; as a recipient casualty of it's effects in my anger I blamed anyone but myself, but that's just it: at the core of the problem is man's natural tendency to mitigate the harm his actions have on himself; it is the oldest self preservation mechanism in existence and cause of our greatest triumphs and lowest, most base failures.

So consider the following allegorical concept my understanding of the credit crunch, the villains and steps taken all being related to what has happened and what is happening:

A balloon maker is trying to inflate his greatest ever invention: the ACME Ever-inflating balloon. His latest invention is actually the latest in a long line of inventions like this which, whilst occasionally falling short of spectacular over the years, or not providing balloons for all, will potentially provide a balloon so big everyone can enjoy it.

After decades of testing, trials and failures he thinks he has it based on some very simple principles:

1. The balloon has to be inflated at just the right speed: not too fast or too slow, the former running the risk that the air will leak out with the latter risking bursting the balloons.

2. The balloon manufacturer builds a dormant safety mechanism into the balloons outer skin which stops gas escaping all at once if the air is pumped in too fast: a second skin underneath attached to the outer one is connected in such a way that when the outer one is breached it falls in on the inner one sealing the breach; the outer skin can then be inspected, repaired, and re-inflated.

3. As a consequence of the need for some delicate control of the balloons expansion it is controlled by a hand pump so the rate of pumping can be varied.

4. In the event that the pumping doesn't yield enough air in a timely fashion further hand pumps can be added, with more people drafted in to help pump it up when needed.

The balloon-maker sets about working - slowly he starts the pump and the balloon begins to fill; occasionally it bursts and settles on the inner skin, he takes some time out to make adjustments and begins filling it again.

Eventually the balloon gets so big it pokes over the top of the balloon-makers wall; the villagers see it and are happy to see it, their minds imagining what they could do with a big balloon like that and the fun they could have. However, it quickly dawns on them that whilst they are enjoying smaller balloons sold in the balloon-makers shop he is not going to sell this one till he can be sure he has figured out the problems with filling it; in a moment of impatience they ask the village watchmen to go help the balloon-maker with the pumping - the watchmen are convinced when fears of the balloon "deflating" are put in their mind.

The watchmen, enamoured by their new position and honour don suits and set themselves down next to the balloon-maker; despite the balloon-makers protestations at pushing it too quickly they set about pumping.

It is not long before the villagers see the balloon expanding faster than before; they start to surmise that the actions of all that extra air being pumped in is the cause - to push things faster they hire further town watchmen to don a suit and pull up a seat and start pumping. The town watchmen are paid with the villagers smaller balloons which, having seen the size of the new balloon and the feelings that this will provide the greatest amount of fun and joy this will bring are summarily neglected and start to sag, popping and deflating altogether in a few cases.

The balloon-maker is worried; he has repaired the outer skin many more times than he though would be necessary due to the speed of inflating; he begins thinking it time to stop for a while to make more sensible repairs and rethink his strategy; the suited watchmen, sensing their new found powers and authority coming to an end balk at this, and encourage some of the less reputable villagers to set themselves up as competing balloon-makers.

So many balloon-makers appear; most fail with a few successful ones appearing: some rely on luck and others on copying the original concept - the successful ones attract the attention and "help" by more suited watchmen.

Then one day, having suffered too many deflations and been too quickly pumped up by the suited watchmen and villagers pretending to be balloon-makers the inevitable happens: the inner skin on the Ever-Inflating balloon and it's many inspired progeny rupture and they deflate en masse. The original ever-inflating balloon is the last to go - both inner skin and outer, and, in a panic, the suited watchmen press-gang the villagers into picking up pumps to keep it filled.

The villagers toil in vain; the skin slowly deflates and, with the older, smaller balloons lying flaccid and limp in their homes they try everything; they work in shifts under the watchful eye of the suited watchmen, who occasionally, in moments of fitful madness, engage them in "big pushes" to keep the balloons inflated; eventually the villagers children are press-ganged into helping on the pumps, but the big balloons remain lilting and in an increasing number of cases flaccid.

Ultimately there are no balloons left, the joy ripped out of the village and it's inhabitants exhausted; the remaining suited-watchmen disappear beyond the walls with the few small balloons given to them by the over-eager villagers.

The few villagers who turned their hand to balloon making themselves are only able to make littler balloons than before and, with trepidation, they knock on the door of the original balloon-makers house, hoping he has not left the village for good, and some modicum of joy can be returned.

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