Saturday, September 20, 2008

Top Ten things to Do during an economic downturn...

Nobody can tell me that they have lived through an economic downturn this severe that is my age - unless of course they were mysteriously teleported from the early 1930's into today's age by strapping an electrical device to their heads and drinking some bootleg bathtub gin - and I, although gullable and open to the idea of time travel, find that very,very slim. If I was to do that, it would be to teleport myself into the disco era of the seventies - I love silk shirts, polyester pants, and hell, flyback hairstyles were the bomb...

I digress my friends, I digress. As the solidly entrenched upper middle class wage earner that I am, (you know there are 12 classes - hell I think there are two - rich and those who shop at Walmart - I fall into the latter), my wife and I embarked upon our cost reduction program by deciding that we would not use the air conditioner after receiving a pleasantly large electric bill that probably could have sent another 10 Zimbabwean troop to joing the coalition for another year or so - and even as I type, my allergies are making my eyes look like I smoked two or three bags of cheap weed and then poked them with ice picks. Needless to say, I did sleep pretty well, even if I did wake up feeling like it was time to pack the tent, and wash the sleeping bags. Don't let this be mistaken as my household going green - we'd have to sell the minivan for that to happen, and wear clothes made out of hemp, and we just have not gone that far....yet.

Segue into my first top ten list for those of us who, trusting in the Horatio Algiers possibilities of this great Nation, want to try and save a few bucks during this economic downturn - trust me on this one, the ten things below will not only save you money, but, if you start a revolution, may get you elected to your PTA Association:

1. Eat at Costco on Saturdays and Sundays. I know the old ladies and screaming children are a pain in the ass, but who can deny that the samples they provide you are a filling and cheap way to feed the family. Just last week I had two medicine cups full of red wine, three or four bites of mediterranean chicken, some struedel, and then to top it off, I "sampled" four grapes to make sure they tasted pretty good. Hell, make an evening out of it, I let my kids wear their heelies and gave them a quarter for being the first to find a new sample location. A new spin on potluck....

2. Sell your spouses favorite things on ebay - they never understood why you did not like them, and now they never will.

3. Read a book. I know with the current state of education these days, this may not be an option for everyone - so let me rephrase - read or LOOK at a book.

4. Hang out with friends ALOT. They don't know why you are spending inordinate amounts of time soaking up their electricity, eating their food, drinking their beer, and using their shower - and if they are REAL friends, they will gladly let you do that.

5. Go back to dial up - remember the good old days when surfing the web was an all day affair just to balance your check book - well, it's still an option, and for $9.99 per month, you too can let the excitement build as it takes four hours to open Yahoo.

6. Put your retirement savings in jar accounts - mayo jars, mustard jars, baby food jars - and bury them in your backyard. I doubt too many CEO's of these failed institutions will be in your backyard with metal detectors looking for them - they can afford to lose half of their $30 million bonus they have received over the last ten years, and if you get audited by the IRS, they will never find the money.

7. Do all of those "free" things our parents tell us exist - after filling up your SUV with nine dollar per gallon gas, head to a state park, pay the $12.50 daily entrance fee, the bear removal fee, the State Fund for Gravel Fee, the Daily Fishing License (this is only for folks who think they might fish - if you are actually going to fish you must have your license tattoed on your gums), the backing into parking lot fee, and finally the weekly football pool for Ranger Dan and Assistant Ranger Chuck - and have fun. After spending an hour listening to other folks who have not excercised for years ask "Where is the escalator" on the five mile hike for about two hours, it will be the best $470 you ever spent. This is one of the generational gripes that I have - there ain't shit that is free anymore - so for you parents of middle aged children out there - stop suggesting it.

8. Get a second, or even third job. For us middle classers we need to earn more money so we can pay more taxes. Come on you unpatriotic gaggle - do your part - in order to bail out these major companies our government needs the cash flow. Who cares if we already travel 80% of the time, work seventy hours a week, our kids think we are foster parents, that leaves at least 60 quality working hours a week to invest in the next generation's future.

9. Move back in with your parents. They are the ones who thought biochemicals, plastics, aerosols, leaded gasoline, savings and loans, DEET, deregulation, etc were all good ideas - and they always taught you that you must pay for your mistakes - time for them to start paying. Besides, it will let you catch up on all of the things you feel liked you missed out on as a child.

10. Move to Canada - from what I understand from looking at books (see point 3, I was a child of public education) - they live in the woods and eat maple syrup for free every day. Save up the $17,230 dollars for gas to drive up there, the fast food meals that cost $87 for a family of four, the $1,372 dollars in tolls that you are going to pay to the Public Private Investment companies that paid to build the highway and now get the revenue from it, the $8,471 dollars it will take to apply for a passport, and go.

Now, no one can say I am not doing my part - but seriously, I think the most important thing that any of us can do is VOTE - personally, political choices are a private matter - publicly, our federal elected officials are just about the only folks with a job for life (trust me on this one, once they are thrown out of congress, they get a job with a lobbyist, or on the prison work farm as an attorney), so we might as well decide intelligently who we want making decisions that insulate their families and friends from the plight of the rest of us.

Until next time.

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