Bill Frist Explains the Blind Trust (and Announces Presidential Candidacy)

Tachs-Yelter, Utah, December 22, 2005 -- Hi, Avant News Readers. I'm Senator Bill Frist, a United States Senator from the great state of Tennessee. Best of all, I'm Senate Majority Leader, which means I'm the most important of all the white male millionaires in tailored suits tasked with acting out the people's will until I get indicted, which we all know might not probably happen anytime soon.

Anyhoo, the good people of Avant News have asked me to write a special guest article explaining what a Blind Trust is, how it works, and why it's good for America, and I'm just as pleased as can be to be given the opportunity to do so. Along the way, I may announce something about my future political aspirations that might come as kind of a surprise for you (sssh!). Now let's get started on understanding the concept of the "Blind Trust".

Before we get started, though, let me explain why a blind trust, and I'll stop writing it with capitals now, is such an important thing to have. A lot of people who work in Washington, D.C., which is the capital (speaking of capitals!) of our Great Country, are rich as thieves. Remember that quaint old Bible quotation from the Bible, I think it was Matthew, Chapter 19, Verse 24: "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"?

Well. Let's just say your elected representatives have been working hard on developing some camel-reducing needle technology, because your elected representatives, at least in the Senate, are loaded to the gills, and we sure as hell don't want to wind up in that other place (you know the one I mean. Ssshh!!!).

A part of being loaded to the gills is you have a lot of investments in different things. My old friend Dick Cheney, for instance, your Vice President, is just up to his ears in a company called Halliburton. And I'm sure we're all as pleased as can be that the company is going so well for him, thanks to all the no-bid defense contracts they've been getting. He's bound to have a peach of a retirement.

And speaking of defense, your Defense Secretary, my good friend Donald Rumsfeld, owns a whole lot of stock, something like eight million dollars' worth, in a company called Gilead Sciences, which owns the rights to a drug called Tamiflu, which is in high demand because of the widespread fears of avian flu. So Donald's sitting pretty, because of all the warnings and panic-buying and inflated prices and everything.

And that's why we have something called the Blind Trust (dang, there's those capitals again. I'll stop doing that). A blind trust (see? Better.) is a special something that's designed to prevent what we in Congress like to call a "conflict of interest"; or, to be more accurate, to prevent something else we in Congress like to call "the appearance of a conflict of interest", which is just a whole lot more important. That's why Donald and Dick have all of their shares in blind trusts, so all those shares and options and assets they own won't appear to influence them when they're making important decisions about the good of the country.

Whoops! It looks like your Special Economics Correspondent just made what we specialists like to call, in layman's terms, a "fuck-up". It turns out Dick and Donald don't actually have their assets in blind trusts. They're just piling it in like hobos at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and giving the finger to the public.

But that's why I'm a much better person. Because I have millions upon millions of dollars worth of stock (whoops! Another one of those "fuck-up" things. I can't actually admit how much I secretly know I actually have. That's the secret of the blind trust.) in a blind trust in what we call a health maintenance organization, or HMO, that my daddy started, but because of the blind trust I don't know if it even exists and can't do anything about it if it does, and that's how I avoid a conflict of interest.

Oopsy-daisy! I see I'm getting ahead of myself again. I haven't even defined what a blind trust is, and that's the whole point of this article. I'd better get back on message before Avant News cancels the check for my advance.

Here we go. An online encyclopedia I just had an intern plagiarize defines a blind trust as "a trust in which the executors have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust. Blind trusts are generally used when a trustor wishes to keep the beneficiary unaware of the specific assets in the trust, such as to avoid conflict of interest between the beneficiary and the investments."

Exactly. So a blind trust is a place to put all your conflicted money and stock holdings, and then forget you put it there so it won't influence your decision-making.

Let's think of it as a piggybank, one that's used by a person with a really flawed short-term memory. We'll call him Bill, just as a hypothetical example. Bill has, let's say, twenty million dollars. Maybe forty million. He puts the money in a piggybank on his coffee table, and then immediately forgets he has it in there. Just to be on the safe side, he gives the piggybank to a friend. We'll call him "Bro".

That way, whenever the hypothetical Bill has to make a political decision in his capacity as, well, let's just call him a hypothetical Senate Majority Leader who, as a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has a major role to play in congressional decisions effecting healthcare, and that the piggybank contains stock in the world's largest health maintenance organization, or HMO. We'll call it an HMO called HCA, just as a hypothetical example.

Anyhoo, whenever Bill has to make a healthcare-related decision that might have a significant impact on HMOs like HCA, he forgets what he put in the piggybank, because it's a blind trust. He has no idea what's in there. He forgot!

Sometimes, his friend "Bro" might call him up and say "Hey Bill, I just put another five million dollars in the HCA piggybank." That might even happen dozens of times over a few years, if Bill's friend happens to forget how a blind trust works, just like Bill forgot what he had in the piggybank. But Bill will nod and thank him, and then forget again, because it's a blind trust. Then he'll go ahead with whatever healthcare legislation he's working on, even if it has a major direct impact on the profits of HMOs like the one in his piggybank, knowing that there's no conflict of interest. Why? That's right. Because the piggybank is in a blind trust. And Bill doesn't remember what he has in there, even though his friend just reminded him a couple of minutes ago (right at the beginning of this paragraph!).

Also, if he wants to take something out of the blind trust, he can't because—remember? It's blind. And so he can't do that unless he forgets to forget that he doesn't know what's in there, and asks the people holding the piggybank if they could please take something out of it, if there's anything in there, which he doesn't know because he just forgot.

And there's more. Just as it said in the dictionary definition above, not only doesn't Bill know what's in there (even though he knows, but he forgets) he also doesn't have anything to say about what happens to the money in the piggybank, unless the people, like "Bro", in charge of the piggybank ask him what he wants to do with the stock in there, in which case he tells them.

But – and here's the most important thing: The whole time the people who are holding the piggybank are holding the piggybank, they can do whatever they want with it. It's they who are making the decisions, not Bill (even though Bill is the one making the decisions).

So even if Bill, just as a hypothetical example, knew that the stock he had put in the piggybank and then forgotten about (because, for example, another friend (who happened to be a director in the company that Bill owned millions of dollars of shares in, and also happened to be Bill's brother, and also happened to whisper into Bill's ear one day that the stock was about to drop like a stone) was taking care of it for him) was about to tank, Bill couldn't do anything about it. Because it's a blind trust.

Unless Bill tells Bro to sell the stock. And that's the best part of the blind trust. You can take the little plug out of the bottom of the piggybank anytime you like, because that's easy enough to do even when the lights are out.

And that's what we call a blind trust. I hope I've helped shed a little light on this tricky subject, and, before I go, I wanted to announce that I'll probably be announcing my candidacy for Republican nominee for President in 2008 sometime soon. If I could just get these damn SEC vultures off my back. Hang on, I need to go draft a little anti-watchdog legislation. And something else to muzzle those damn medical malpractice vultures. Thanks for listening, John Q. Public!

Editor: Our guest columnist has been Republican Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee.

By Bill Frist, Avant News Special Economics Correspondent

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