Recession? Bring It On!

(Headline in the Huffington Post, 11/15/11)

I’m worth 300 billion dollars and I plan to give it all away, so up until recently, I haven’t been paying any attention to the economy.

My 300 billion earns 5% compounded, day in and day out, so I’m a billion or so richer every time I turn around. Ever try to spend a billion? You buy this, give away that, for a day or two, or a week nonstop, but the money just keeps piling up. Frustrating and annoying, like junk mail or spam. Or my rich sister’s tweets.

When the economy was ok – you know, back when everybody was buying houses and flipping them and the guys bundling the mortgages and peddling default credit swaps were raking it in – my give-away strategy was simple: find the poorest folks out there and give my money to them.

But now there’s this whole 1%/99% thing. I’ve got to spread my growing pile out over everybody but us billionaires. In fact, I think that a few of the lesser billionaires are in the 99% too. It’s like peanut butter – if you’re putting a dab on a Ritz cracker, that’s easy. But if you have a great big piece of crumbly white bread and a big glob of peanut butter that’s hard because you keep it in the icebox, then getting it spread out evenly on the bread is not easy. If it’s chunky, that’s even worse. (See, my money is the peanut butter and the white bread is the people (of all colors, of course!), whereas the Ritz cracker is the poorest (not call crackers, of course, haha)).

It’s not my fault that I’m rich. I didn’t earn it or anything. My grandfather and father did, who knows how. They died and now I’m stuck with it. Now I’m going to wish it onto somebody else? Is that fair? I gave my brother-in-law a couple billion and he ended up blowing his brains out. Did I do that? Money like this, it’s radioactive.

But if I spread it thin enough, it’ll be ok. That’s my thinking. Nobody in Kansas wants any; they think I should keep it (I read that in a book). Mississippi wants some but they haven’t figured out how to divide it up amongst all those fertilized eggs they’re going to get going to increase their share. I think that Chicago wants some but the mayor dropped so many F bombs on me when we spoke, I can’t be sure. Prairie Home Companion wants half a million. Finally, Hollywood wants, well, all of it, but they’ve got a real sweet deal for me.

Then I’ll be broke and go live in a tent at one of the Occupy sites. I’m hoping to, you know, meet someone, see where it leads, take it slow. Maybe she’ll be a doctor or lawyer, with a new BMW and a terrific loft in a great neighborhood over on the West Side.

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve come across two theoretical approaches to this.

    #1 Science fiction writer Jack Vance once portrayed a planet where everyone took turns being the master of the plantation or being the servants/slaves. On Monday, you would give orders and run the plantation. Tuesday through Sunday, you would dig ditches, cook meals, clean bathrooms, etc. Of course, each person gets a different day of the week when they are king of the heap. It’s a lot like the old joke that punchlines, “It’s you’re day in the barrel,” but a little nicer and cleaner.

    #2 The other one is mine (though as it’s brilliant, someone else probably thought of it first). It’s a variation on Cinderella/The Ugly Duckling. A new child would be told that it is a poor stepchild, taken in out of kindness and charity. It would have to do all the unpleasant chores and wait on all the other children, eating last at meals (and getting only left overs). At the age of six or so, it would be told that because it doesn’t really belong, it’s going to be sent away to boarding school. The child is terrified and fears the worst. However, after some initial hazing, the child discovers that the boarding school is not that bad and becomes a family better than its original family. About twelve or so the child is told that its original parents (thought killed in a terrible accident) have been discovered alive and is sent to live with them. However, they turn out to be crappy parents. About the age of 15, the child is told there was a mix-up. It is a another mistake, and it is going to be sent to live with its REAL parents, who live on a nice estate. Then the child is kidnapped by terrorists and held for ransom, but miraculously is rescued by SWAT team. And so it goes.

    In other words, each person lives a Hollywood Script, without realizing it’s a script. There are enough dangers, persecutions, irritations to make the child really appreciate the breaks when they come. The good stuff doesn’t last long enough for self-pity, ennui, existential angst, etc. to set in.

    Hollywood production (an area where you are far more expert than I) should do more than transport us though images projected on screen and sounds heard through speakers. We should live an engrossing Hollywood screenplay all our lives.

    Of course, there’s an old philosophical joke about infinite regress that punches, “It’s turtles all the way down.” In my proposed solution for making life mostly happy, the problem is, “Who writes the scripts for the script writers?”

    • Vance is 95 and still lives in Oakland, far as I know. I wonder if he’s checked out the Occupy movement there.

      I’ve seen a study that followed up on ten children who basically lived scripts such as you describe. Three ended up more philosophical than normal, three ended up more fatalistic than normal, three ended up more OCD than normal, and yes, you guessed it, one ended up more normal than normal.

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