What's happened to the creative spirit that put together the financial instruments that caused today's market bedlam? You'd think someone would've figured out some inventive ways to profit from the government bailout.

But it seems that subtlety is out of style. For instance, where's the panache in becoming a "bank holding company" in order to get at the government's bailout money? It's just so obvious.

And even worse, it's already been done … by Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and American Express (NYSE:AXP). Even General Motors' GMAC has filed the paperwork, for goodness' sake.

So instead of jumping on the bank bandwagon, why not look for more creative ways to make money? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Companies being thwacked by decreased pulp demand -- such as International Paper (NYSE:IP) and Canfor -- should bid to supply special new currency paper to the Treasury. Make the paper pink, and we'll be able to tell how well bailout dollars are trickling down to individual taxpayers.
  • Providing primo chow and Rottweiler-size uniforms to the Treasury's guard dogs should give a big boost to PetSmart's (NASDAQ:PETM) already-good earnings prospects.
  • Auto executives clearly need a stealth corporate jet to fly to and from the federal trough in Washington. Is Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) up to the task?
  • I know many families could use a snazzy ceramic curio from Pier 1 Imports as a "curse kitty." Pony up a quarter for each profanity you utter after checking your portfolio. All it takes is one little slip, and you'd have enough to buy a share of Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) stock -- at least for the moment.

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This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.