We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people, we expectorate at unfortunate moments and, sometimes, we make ill-judged investments. In an atmosphere in which many poor investments are being rescued like lost puppies on a Friday night after the bars close, you might expect some bright tech mind to go all Web 2.0 on the issue.
Welcome, therefore, buymyshitpile.com.
I was directed to this most innovative site by one of America's more renowned literary figures, who, I understand, has already put one of her more regrettable purchases there (asking price: more than $250,000). As all the best sites do, buymyshitpile.com offers a simple explanation for its existence. It is an attempt to introduce a little democracy into the bailout plan proceedings.
"We figured that instead of protesting this plan, we'd give regular Americans the same opportunity to sell their bad assets to the government," declares the site. It therefore invites you to dispose of your more dubious assets by displaying them on its pages and naming your own price.
Though the design of the site could use a little more finesse, it is hard to argue with the sheer beauty of its logic: "It's not what you can sell these items for that matters, it's what you think they are worth. The fact that you think they are worth more than anyone will buy them for is what makes them bad assets."
Just a quick meander through buymyshitpile.com brings you closer to the world at large, the world of the the true sufferer, the despairing citizen, the person whose mistakes never seem to work out right.
Browsing through the most recent dungish offerings, I saw three oil filters going for a very reasonable $250million; 300 cassette tapes from Abba to ZZ Top at $42million; someone's old bike for a snippy $25,000; some rotten (but not necessarily British) teeth for $1million; and some roadkill for the utterly bargain price of $6.66.
However, there was one item that I know should interest the Treasure Secretary greatly; an engineering diploma from the great Northwestern International University, priced at just $50. Northwestern International is not the place in Illinois with all those massive business and mathematical brains (some of whose alumni might, one supposes, have been involved in the more exotic financial calculations of recent years that, um, didn't quite turn out right).
Northwestern International has a president with the providential name of Dr. Jay Wise. "Northwestern International University is genuinely open. There are no entry qualifications, no admission interview, no barriers of any kind. As long as you are over 18 and want to study, we will accept you," says its website.
The apparent owner of the diploma tells his story thus: "One engineering diploma. Got laid off in 1995 and never found another engineering job. Value of lost wages to date $780,000. But costs more if adjusted for inflation. I'm willing to sell it for the value of the worthless paper-much cheaper than the worthless paper Henry (Paulson, presumably) is trying to sell us."
A Ph.D from this profoundly democratic establishment costs a vast $495. A B.S., a severe $345. And its administrative office is in exotic Gibraltar. The diploma, gained in 2001, declares that Northwestern International is in equally exotic Cyprus. But on buymyshitpile.com, this diploma can be bailed out for a mere $50.
You can see, therefore, just what huge bargains the authorities can pick up if they scour the apparently detrital wasteland that is buymyshitpile.com.
This weekend, could there be anything more important for you to do, but to display your own most painful errors on this site, in order to cleanse your life, help the cause and gird yourself for the fun that is still to come?