POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Joe Wilson's Lucrative "You Lie!" -- Yelling At President Pays Off

Were you one of those people who hoped that the spectacle of watching the sitting president heckled while giving a speech before Congress was a one-time thing? Well, think again, because as it turns out, this kind of misbehavior has proven to be quite lucrative for the heckler. According to The Hill, the Joe Wilson Makes An Ass Of Himself In Front Of America Business is booming:

Wilson announced Thursday that his campaign raised $2.7 million in the third quarter and had $2.6 million cash on hand. That amount of money is more than twice as much as Wilson spent in his entire 2008 reelection race.

Over at 1115.org, Sarabeth takes a read on this new marketplace:

We say a little less than $2.7 million because Joe Wilson, no doubt, would have raised one or two hundred thousand in the third quarter even without that inspired moment of fund-raising brilliance. Of course, this is just the short-term pecuniary effect of Wilson's heckle. There will, no doubt, also be future dividends, for several more quarters to come.

However, Wilson probably enjoys some degree of first-mover advantage. Rising to shout "You lie!" at a future presidential speech is unlikely to generate anywhere near the same cashflow stream again. But the free-market works on incentives, and the incentives are clear. Elected representatives wishing to match or top Wilson's millions will just have to raise their game a bit, perhaps by the use of explicitly racist language, perhaps by the use of airborne missiles in conjunction with rude words.

Perhaps we can go even farther, and create a commodities market, speculating on the future value of potential political insults. Because if you have a shot at Joe Wilson money, there's likely to be a crowded field the next time President Obama speaks in front of Congress.

Of course, what happens when, say, the next State of the Union address devolves into a British-Parliament-style melee of launched projectiles and indecipherable insults? Well, that means the market value of each individual investment will end up being substantially less than the purchase value. And by then, everyone will have backstopped their potential loss by chopping up their insult futures into complex derivatives, which will have been traded on themselves so widely across the economy that the whole thing will be another toxic and interconnected web of systemic risk that will once again crater the larger economy.

We'll still probably get the spectacle we deserve, however!

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