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Fish Can Count and Monkeys Can Subtract

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Bookmark this because it has the solution to the banking crisis. I've just found out that fish can count and monkeys can subtract.

People are worried about the exodus of Wall Street talent, but we can hurry up and hire the best fish and monkeys to fill those fat cat positions. Fish are honest and those who can count eat mosquito larvae -- no eight-figure bonuses required. Monkeys are a little excitable but they get around just by swinging from tree to tree instead of using limos and corporate jets -- a smaller carbon footprint! Both species seem to be more honest and socially aware than our current crop of bankers.

I make that bold, pro-fish, pro-simian statement because I watched Jon Stewart last night. Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, told us what's happened to at least half of the TARP funds bestowed on bankers by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The deal was that for every dollar we taxpayers gave the banks, the banks would give us a dollar's worth of stock and warrants. Fair enough. But the bankers, according to Warren, only gave us 66 cents on the dollar, and the value of those stocks and warrants has dropped even more since the trade.

Well, this would never happen if fish were in key banking positions because fish know how to count. Mosquitofish, a North and Central American freshwater species, successfully counted geometric shapes in a study conducted by psychologists at the University of Padova in Italy.

The fish were taught to associate a door in their tank with a certain number of shapes. They recognized the right number even though researchers varied the size, brightness and distance of the shapes counted. Since Mosquitofish are social animals, scientists believe that being able to count might help them seek safety in numbers.

On Jon Stewart's show, Elizabeth Warren also mentioned that she doesn't quite know how much of the TARP funds have actually been distributed.

If monkeys were in charge of that distribution there wouldn't be a problem, because monkeys know how to subtract. In a test of their subtraction skills at Duke University, Rhesus macaques were able to solve a simple subtraction problem on a touch screen. They didn't need to count, they just relied on their sense of missing shapes.

The qualities present in fish and monkeys, being social and caring about their fellows, have gone missing in some bankers. While fish seek companionship and protect each other in schools, bankers enjoy purchasing multiple homes while their customers lose the only homes they've got. Monkeys and even ravens have been shown to care for their communities.

Maybe it's not just the bankers who are bonkers, maybe it's clawing to the top of the food chain that has messed with the human mind. Masters of the Universe, we eat anything that moves, screw over weaker species, profit whenever possible. I lust after profit as much as anyone else (if you want to send me money, please do) but I certainly don't want to be bettered by a bunch of animals who can count, subtract and are more socially aware than some of the bankers who watch over my money.

Something to consider as we monkey around, fishing for answers.