Friday, December 26, 2008

Recession Culprit Caught

by Benjo

Incredible news: they caught the guy who caused the recession! Here's the article from The Orange County Sun:
Man Behind Recession Arrested
ORANGE COUNTY, CA - Don Wakefield, 34, of Orange County, is in custody on charges of causing the recession, bringing a much-needed bit of hope to residents in Orange County and beyond that their economic hardships may be poised to come to an end.

Orange County Police Chief John Davis flashed thumbs up to cameras as he escorted Wakefield into the county jail.

“We got the bastard,” Davis said.

A seven-fingered police officer fastens handcuffs on Wakefield.

Police forces were tipped off to Wakefield's identity following a post he made last week on the website Buyer's Remorse, a support group for shopaholics.

"I don't know how to say this," Wakefield said in the post, dated last Thursday, "but I haven't really spent anything this year." Forum members responded with unfiltered anger and scorn. "Our shopaholism has made this economy great for years," said one user. "You've ruined it for us and everyone!"

Following an anonymous tip from a forum member, police raided Wakefield's home, abducting Wakefield and finding exactly what they had feared: room after room filled with last season's clothes.

"I've been on the force twenty years, and I've never seen anything like this," Davis said. "I mean, if you don't spend your fair share, there's going to be a recession. Everyone knows that. To knowingly withhold your dollars like that—it's unthinkable that someone could be so inhumane."

While the rest of the population spent more this year than in 2007, Wakefield's inactivity singlehandedly resulted in an almost 50% drop in spending.

In initial testimony obtained by The Sun, Wakefield was forthcoming about the nature of his offenses.

"This time last year, I was a shopaholic myself," Wakefield told investigators. "Last winter, I went all out, and got the most incredible clutch of clothes. It was so good, just such a breathtaking clutch. So I wanted to ride it out as long as I could. I got to the point where it's March, it's April, and I'm not buying anything new. Eventually, the clutch burned out, but I was so deep into what I was doing that I kept on going." According to the record, at this point in his testimony, a tearful Wakefield flicked the cuff of an argyle zip-up sweater, whose elastic was visibly imperfect. "Now look at me."

Wakefield will be charged under California's Consumer Latency Prevention Act, according to Chief Davis. Initial reports suggesting that Wakefield would be charged for federal crimes were false: since Wakefield's lack of shopping did not cross state lines, federal consumer latency laws do not apply.

Under the terms of California's law, as a first-time offender, Wakefield's penalty would be limited to a fine of up to $25,000. However, he could face significant jail time if convicted of causing a second recession.

“I'm so relieved they caught him,” said Martha Dierdorf, 41, who owns a small business in San Jose. “Removing this leech from the system takes the load off of small business owners.”

Indeed, many analysts predict that, in the weeks following Wakefield's apprehension, stock prices will increase by 40 to 50%, returning to their pre-recession levels.

“This is what I'd call a massive bail-in,” said Goldman analyst Walt Hurt.

However, many Californians expressed dismay at the leniency of the penalties facing Wakefield. "The government needs to crack down here," said Mike Wagman, 58, of Long Beach. "I mean, me, I'm a conservative. I'm a believer in the free market: that the market works best for everyone when the government keeps its grubby hands out. But within reason. When I hear that someone didn't buy anything new for a year?" Wagman's voice trailed off. "Well, if you want to know my opinion, that guy deserves the ultimate."

Wakefield was drawn to confess, according to his testimony, when he saw the year-over-year economic numbers. "Spending was down, what, like 40% from this time last year? Well it was down 100% for me. Take that out, and maybe everyone would be fine right now." Wakefield wiped a tear from his eye. "It hurts to think about, you know?"

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