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.

I join the 1%

I was moaning and groaning about money and how I didn’t have any and how unfair it was.

“Go see that young fellow David Dollhouse. He’s rich as Croesus. Maybe he’ll share,” my mom said.

I had first met David Dollhouse (of the Rhode Island Dollhouses) out in the woods. Money’s no good in the woods. Me and David were equals in the woods and we got along fine, because I was always careful to recognize his special interest. David believed (and still believes)  that every insect used to be a human being.

He’s a member of the 1%, or even the 0.1% or 0.01%. He lives in a room in a Motel 6 on the outskirts – the outer outskirts – of Curtoe, Oklahoma. He spends most of his time out in the fields behind his room.

“See that ant?” he would say to me. “That ant was a Jew. See him scurry around like that? It’s pathetic.”

He told me I could share his room. He gave me a credit card and told me to use it for anything I needed in Curtoe. The first time I went into town, I had to walk. I checked the credit limit on the card at the local bank. There was no limit. I drove back to the motel in a spanking new used Honda Civic that I bought outright from a lot in town. It had a good AM/FM radio and new retreads.

“I want to introduce you to a snake,” David said to me. “She used to be my piano teacher – the one who charged a lot and put her hand in my fly to bribe me into practicing Hanon, which I hated. So now she’s a snake.”

“Snakes aren’t bugs,” I said.

David snorted.

“Snakes are bugs,” he said. “You have a lot to learn, Grasshopper. There are people who are bugs.”

“Confusing,” I said.

“This snake tried to crawl into my fly. That’s how I know it’s Mrs. O’Dowd. Never trust an Irish piano teacher.”

The next time I was in town, I bought a Boeing 777. They told me that it was impossible to ride it back to the motel. It turns out, no matter how rich you are, there are some things you can’t buy.

“You can’t buy happiness,” said Mrs. Smith, who ran the motel, but she seemed pretty happy. Once David had moved in, she closed all the other rooms.  She doubled the cleaning staff, though, mostly family members, all for David’s room. He tipped with his credit card. The maids put bugs in his bed.

I helped David organized a bug parade on Veteran’s Day. Then I went into town to test Mrs. Smith’s theory. First, I needed to be unhappy, so I went into the hardware store and hit my thumb with a hammer. It hurt like the dickins. I was unhappy. I complained to Mr. Jones, the owner. He told me that I had only myself to blame.

“Oh, yeah?” I said, and I bought the store, lock, stock, and barrel on the spot. Mr. Jones and his clerks and bookkeeper all left and the next thing I knew, customers were pestering me to find items and check them out at the register, wanting to return purchases, wanting gift wrap, and me with a sore thumb. A sore right thumb. I didn’t have the sense to hit my left one instead. So Mrs. Smith proved right. Money could not buy happiness.

My idyll with the rich came to an abrupt end when David caught me with a bucket of KFC. He claimed that chickens were bugs and I was in fact a cannibal, and I was out on my ear. My new Civic pooped out before I reached the state line and when I tried to get it fixed, my credit card had expired.

Parks and Recreation

These is a lot of park jealously out there aimed at Zuccotti. What’s so special about Zuccotti? It’s close to Wall Street? So what? Lots of parks are close to Wall Street, and lots of other parks have benefits to offer protestors.

Top five parks to replace Zuccotti:

1. Cohen Park, New York – 100 blocks uptown from Zuccotti, but fun horse-drawn shuttles to Wall Street have been arranged with Aaron and Ike and their wagons. A Port-A-Potty is onsite. One of those clowns who twists balloons into shapes will perform at the noon hour, except on Saturdays.

2. Motor City Park, Detroit -You can buy the park and every crumbling building on the block for $99.99. No bank involved; they all went out of business in this neighborhood years ago.  A few winos and addicts to deal with, but no police presence whatsoever.

3. Kodiak Park, Wasilla – Empty and quiet. You can see Russia if you stand on the picnic table (which is bolted down, so your protesters can’t walk off with it, or burn it for firewood). Far from Wall Street, true, but only two blocks from Sarah Palin’s house!

4. Wo Shih Park, Qingdao – Very easy administration this park. All protesters shot first day.

5. Tahrir Square, Cairo – You can’t do better than this. Street vendors sell grilled corn, roasted potatoes, sesame candies, various breads, and koshary (rice, macaroni, spaghetti, lentils, and chickpeas, covered with a spicy tomato sauce and fried onions, and optional vinegar). Downplay your Christianity, please; the Coptics are rioting and you  don’t want to get drawn in. Auxiliary space is available in the prison, subject to an OK from the Army.