I Want My Friggin’ Lamborghini!

What am I missing?

OK, I admit I’m not the most educated guy on the planet. Far from it. In fact, I hate school so much, I’ve withdrawn from every school in which I have enrolled myself in the last 20 years under the horribly mistaken impression that it would be a good idea. The only ones in which I’ve enrolled and actually completed were those schools I was unable to avoid. Like those fun Army schools. Yeah, I’m the only person I know who took nine years to complete a three-year Army correspondence course.

I’m just a regular college grad. And it wasn’t even an Ivy League school. And I was lucky to make it out of there alive. After flunking out of both the math and physics departments in my senior year, I graduated half a year late with a Speech degree. Now THERE’S a rigorous major if I ever heard of one. (Sarcasmatron decisively engaged.)

But I’m not an idiot. As my friend Steve Rowe, a fellow retired Army colonel and one helluva smart guy, said on numerous occasions in his Owensboro, Kentucky accent, “Mama didn’t raise no fool. A couplea ugly kids, but there ain’t a dumb one in the bunch!” This applies to my situation as well, though my siblings would debate the appearance clause of Col. Rowe’s quote in our case.

So why don’t I get it? Am I that uneducated that the debt crisis “dialogue” is incomprehensible? Here’s an appropriately uneducated observation: WTF?

I can’t be THAT out of touch, can I? I mean, I carry a Mensa card, which means I take tests really, REALLY well. But it also means I have some (albeit limited) analytical and (possibly) critical thinking aptitude.

So why don’t I get it?

I know governments play by different rules, but here’s the thing: If I can’t pay my American Express bill because I’m over committed, is it likely that Visa is going to give me an increase in my credit limit so I can pay my American Express bill?

Wait. Don’t answer yet. Unless you’ve tried this like I did early on in my adult life, you won’t have the personal experience to answer definitively.

They won’t. Trust me.

So why do I keep hearing that this is a good idea for the federal government?

What am I missing?

The laws applying to individual finance here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. do not reward those who don’t pay their bills. There are lawsuits, judgments, repossessions and garnishments in store for those who don’t square up whether they are unsecured credit card bills, or mortgages. (Wait… I’m not so sure they can do that anymore for defaulted mortgages.) If you don’t pay your child support or alimony, you don’t get to put it on a newer charge account with a new, higher limit and introductory interest rate. You’re screwed if you don’t take care of business. Royally screwed. Personal experience talking here. Don’t pay your bar tab at the end of the night? The big, burly bouncer will see you now.

As I said, I know governments are different, but money at the individual level is a fixed resource. I can’t print my own currency to bail my sorry butt out of a financial jam. That’ll put me in jail. (No, this is one that I haven’t tried. Yet.)

So why do I keep hearing that printing more money is a good idea for the federal government? (Though just once, a trillion-dollar coin WOULD be awesome, right?)

I dunno. I guess those people in Washington who are supposed to be leading us to wealth and prosperity must be WAY smarter than me. They gotta be freaking Poindexters one and all. Einsteins even.

I dunno. I guess even with my big ass brain, I need more education to figure this out. Maybe I need to go back to school and learn how this all works. Maybe a degree in economics or political science would help me to understand that which eludes me. Maybe I just need more education.

Maybe I need a hole in the head, too.

But I DEFINITELY need a Lamborghini.

An Open Letter to our Politicians in Our Nation’s Capital

Dear Federal Politicians:

Hey folks! Hope you’re all enjoying your recess – I know the FAA isn’t, but that’s another story.

I’m writing to you because I have two small children with whom I reside, and their behavior has too many disturbing similarities to you folks to ignore anymore. Let’s face it, boys and girls, you’ve been bad, bad politicians. Shame on you! How would your mothers feel if they knew you were behaving like preschoolers?

Since you’re all running around the house screaming at each other just as my preschoolers are, (except for Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is my new hero – she’s got more guts than all of you put together) I’m going to take this opportunity as your American “parent” to correct your behavior and remind you how people are supposed to behave.

(Imagine be standing over you shaking my finger at you while reading this. Good. Thanks.)

Stop calling each other names! Ok, I know that it’s easy to point fault at your playmates, but really, even though “stick and stones may break my bones…” and all that, it’s petty, accomplishes nothing and makes you and the rest of our American family look bad. Knock it off. Now.

My mom and dad always taught me that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Here’s another one upon which you will be able to rely as you go through this developmentally awkward period: “Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Stop the finger pointing! I don’t like tattletales and I don’t care who did it first! I want it to stop and stop now. ‘Nuff said about that one.

Stop blaming your playmates for your bad behavior! When you try this hard to blame someone else for your goofs and gaffes, it’s very clear that you’re just doing it because you feel guilty and just want that bad attention on someone else other than you. If you screw up, admit it. Your American parents (i.e. the electorate) will go much easier on you if you just admit that what you did was wrong than if you try and blame your playmate or hide it.

Absolutely NO playtime until your homework is done! Your “school” gives you way too much time for recess. While I know that you and your playmates need to go outside and play for awhile, (it’s supposed to build social skills and teamwork – how’s that working out for you?) you really shouldn’t go outside and play until all your work is done. Your American parents aren’t allowed to leave their work until they’ve done what their bosses have assigned them. You and your playmates shouldn’t either.

You’re spending your allowance on all the wrong things! If I could take away your allowance, I would because you’ve been particularly careless. I know that you and your playmates all love to run to the corner store and buy things like wax lips, those little candy dots on paper and comic books. And I know how yummy and fun those things are, but really, you can’t spend all your allowance on those things. A little bit’s fine, but not ALL of it, for goodness sake! Now, I know you and your playmates are too immature to understand even the basics of how to handle having an allowance. But in the long run, if you learn now how money works, you’ll be much better off, instead of just looking forward to your next candy fix (election.) I’ll try to teach you, but you have to be willing to listen a little bit, ok?

Kids, what I guess I’m trying to tell you is best summed up by the lesson from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” a cute little movie that you can see when you stop behaving like toddlers: “Be excellent to each other.” Yeah. That’s always a good rule of thumb.

Now do you understand what I’ve just said? You sure? Good. Now go sit in time out for fifteen minutes and when you’re done, you can go play with your playmates again.

Don’t cry – it’ll be ok. Want a juice box?

An Open Letter to Ted Williams, the Artist Formerly Known as That Homeless Guy with the Great Voice

Dear Ted:

I’m delighted to learn of your story and the happy ending which will hopefully follow. As a former and now wannabe radio guy myself, I’m a tad jealous that you’re getting all the attention and job offers. But hey, I wasn’t going to be hired in radio any time soon anyway, so I’m cool with it all.

Your story gives hope to those of us who have fallen and fallen hard – and believe me, I know about falling all too well. Once you’ve made your successful return to the business and get everything back together for yourself, for me personally, you’ll become an example worthy of emulation — perhaps even an inspiration. I’m hoping that your success will help me move past some of the nearly debilitating daily vestiges of a time in my life I’d rather forget, just as you are moving past yours.

So here’s to you! Congratulations! I hope that you don’t screw it up for yourself. But that’s mostly because I hope you don’t screw it up for me.

All the best,


Regarding 21 March 2010

In the interest of full disclosure, this vote does not directly affect my health coverage. TRICARE, the military’s health insurance program, was explicitly excluded from any of this.

Health care and health insurance needs to be reformed. I don’t believe there’s a sane individual who doesn’t agree with this basic thesis. Where the conflict arises is the HOW it gets done.

We can debate specific provisions all you want, and I’m willing and able to make a good case. But what I find disconcerting is that my kids will now be required to have health insurance or face a financial penalty.

Neither of my kids drive, therefore they are not required to buy car insurance. When they DO choose to make that choice, then they will be required to buy it. Fair enough.

However, both of my kids are struggling as it is to make ends meet. This will create a financial burden on them both. I get that yeah, it’s good to take care of yourself anyway, and this is sound. In fact, a couple years ago, I helped the older son find affordable, appropriate health insurance for someone his age and health.

What concerns me is that, assuming this passes Constitutional muster, the federal government will now for the first time have the ability to compel the populace to purchase a good that they may not want or need. One can argue that taxes are similar, and you’d make a valid point.

What will be the next item the Federal government deems necessary for me to have? Broadband internet access? Solar generating equipment? Both of those items can be considered to be part of the greater good as well.

My point: where are the checks and balances on what the Federal government can now direct individuals to purchase in the interest of the greater good?

The sky isn’t going to fall today. People WILL get covered now who were uninsurable before. Preexisting conditions will become less troublesome. These are all laudable goals and should have been part of a reasoned, measured incremental plan to reform health care and insurance. I believe we could have gotten there without the mandatory Federal provisions, had the politics of the situation not run amok. But here we are.

I hope that as a nation, we’re up to making the best of the situation.