Friday, October 10, 2008

Federal Government to Insure American Relationships

WASHINGTON (AP - filed 09:32 EST 10/10/08) – In the latest measure to combat growing uncertainty amid the global economic crisis, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt announced that his department will launch a program to guarantee Americans’ investment in their personal relationships. The new program, called the Federal Relationship Insurance Yenta (FRIY), will provide free matchmaking services to any American citizen who has been abandoned by his or her romantic partner.

“Personal relationships are a foundation of American economic stability,” Leavitt told reporters at a press conference early Friday morning. “If people can’t be sure that they will have someone to come home to, they might not go to work at all.”

Laura H. Steinberg, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and expert in relationship psychology, praised the federal initiative. “Research has shown that people who fear loneliness will frequently preemptively flee relationships they think are unstable, so that they can be the ‘dumper’ and not the ‘dumpee’. We call these cases ‘break up runs’, and they are a major source of domestic instability.”

Steinberg expressed confidence that a federal guarantee of partner replacement would make Americans less anxious about their current partnerships, and so less likely to leave the relationships they already have.

This logic is modeled on thinking behind recent expansion of FDIC coverage from the first $100,000 customers hold in insured bank accounts to $250,000. Economic policymakers are currently weighing a plan to extend coverage to all domestic deposits, regardless of size. Such measures are thought to ward off mass withdrawals from retail banks.

Other federal departments have instituted similar programs to reassure frightened Americans. Starting next academic year, the Department of Education guarantees that all college students who attend at least 75% of class sessions will receive no worse than a ‘C’ grade. The Commerce Department’s new Federal Reimbursement of Experimentation Entitlement (FREE) will provide refunds to restaurant diners who try new dishes and are not satisfied.

The FRIY program will face some difficulties in gaining congressional approval, largely concerning difficulties in defining ‘relationship’. Leavitt insists that coverage will extend at least to those who are going steady, but could not provide a more precise characterization.

“This program is too unclear to be workable,” complained House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI). “For instance, will the program include Americans with an established pattern of booty calls? What about friends with benefits?”

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the architect of the federal government’s guarantee program rollout, dismisses such criticisms. “In these times of uncertainty, we must do everything we can to eliminate the perception of risk. It’s important for every American to understand that no matter how bad things might get, nothing bad will ever happen to you personally.”

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