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99 bottles and a few less bucks

December 03, 2008
Am I missing something here? I'm the first to admit that I know little about economics and the problems that the country is now facing. But, the best I can tell, we, the taxpayers, are being taken to the cleaners.

It seems that all the major companies are on their way to Washington (mostly in private jets) with their tin cups out in hopes of getting all they can while the money is flowing so generously. How can all these companies go broke at the same time? And why isn't anyone being held accountable for the money they lost and the predicament in which they find themselves.

Let's see, AIG got a check in the mail. So did Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. CitiGroup and other banking interests now have their hands on our wallet, and the Big Three automakers aren't about to give up until we give them the shirts off our backs.

Many of us are asking ourselves how things have gotten so bad in such a short amount of time. For the last eight years, we've been told that the economy was booming, jobs were increasing, and there was ample growth. President Bush assured us that his tax cuts for the wealthy would keep the economy going strong and some of that would trickle down to those of us who actually earn their money. Well, I'm still waiting for my trickle. I could sure use it to buy another gallon of gas at outrageous prices. Bush also sent most of us a check for $600 in the mail a few months ago, telling us to spend it because it would help stimulate the economy. Now, they are criticizing us because we don't save money. And what happened to all the stimulation?

I used to believe that those who run major corporations were smart, or at least sly and devious. An Associated Press article in August pointed out that two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005. The article also mentioned that about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the United States avoided corporate taxes over the same period. Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales. That takes some really smart people to be able to pull off avoiding that many taxes, for that many years — and get by with it. But if those same people are smart enough to pull that off, how were they stupid enough to almost bankrupt some of the largest corporations and banks in the country? As I see it — they were anything but stupid. They milked the companies dry, then came knocking on our door, asking for help replenishing the coffers.

In the United States, the richest 10 percent have 70 percent of the wealth. The bottom 40 percent have less than 1 percent of the wealth. Am I being a little too pessimistic here by saying that seems a little lopsided? Now, those people who control 70 percent of the wealth are wanting the rest of us, who control 1 percent of the wealth, to bail them out of the financial mess they created. Isn't that kind of like getting a phone call from the guy who owns Cardinal Dodge in Louisville, asking to borrow my car?

I decided to do some old-fashioned, country figgerin'. I wanted to see where I stand in the bigger scheme of things. I didn't have a calculator, so I used the time-tested method of using empty beer bottles to keep count and began the process of determining my income versus my expenditures, my debt versus my savings and what I have to spend on my wife's birthday and my mother-in-law's gutter repair.

Of course, I realize that I'm not in the richest 10 percent controlling 70 percent of the bucks, so naturally, I must be somewhere in the lower 40 percent who control the left-over 1 percent. Using this method of figgerin', each empty beer bottle can represent a hundred dollars, and a six-pack is worth $640, if you figure in handling and transportation costs. Take that, multiply the number of late charges I paid to the public library, donations to high school kids who are taking a trip somewhere, subtract the money I didn't make, but thought I would, from the sale of an old pick-up truck — then add the rising cost of my health insurance policy, and divide that by the number of trips my furnace repair man had to make to my house before he actually fixed it, and I came up with a number that is surely close to my actual standing. I figure that, out of the 40 percent, I'm at about the 29-percent mark. At first, I thought I was at 24 percent, but then I remembered the $82 we made from our yard sale, and that put us up to the 29-percent mark.

Now, I've got a plan. If the $82 from the yard sale can raise me five percentage points, then all I have to do is have about three more yard sales and I'll be above the 40 percent. And if I'm above 40 percent, I must be part of the 10 percent who control 70 percent of the money. Man, I'm on the road to riches.

I think I'll make a run to town for another case of beer or two, just to do some more figgerin', of course, and plan how I'm going to spend all that money. Wow — just think about it — if I have 10 or 12 yard sales a year, I could soon become king of the financial world, and I'll be eligible for a bailout, also. But don't worry folks, I won't forget where I came from — or my roots. I'll be back someday, to share my bailout money with you. Of course, you'll have to buy the beer. You know how it is — the other guy's money is always easier to spend.

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Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
Corydon Instant Print
03 - 30 - 20
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