Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Continuing Tale of the Speaking Wallet (Surprise)

I'm not an economics expert and don't want to be.
But when I see cretins like Congressman Paul Ryan, a Republican (translation: Supporter of the Rich) from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee tell the country that the so-called Buffett Plan proposed by the President, which would raise taxes for American millionaires, would be opposed by House Republicans, two things comes to mind.
First, since when does one congressman speak for all congressmen, even those sharing the same political party?
I would hope each congressman would take the facts of individual proposals, and vote on them based on their merit, and most importantly, the wants and needs of his or her constituents.
But I guess that's just my old-man naïveté. Somewhere along the line, somebody told me, I think it was everyone I ever met in my life, public servants were supposed to serve the public, not their own greedy, political-driven agenda.
Best of luck finding an elected official that plays by those antiquated rules.
These days, however, public servants do play the children's game of monkey in the middle, with us poor working primates in the middle.
You know the rhetoric, “You picked on our party's president, so now we're going to screw up everything your party's president tries to do, regardless of how good or bad it might be for the American public. Naa Naa Naa”.
So nothing gets done, the economy plunges another level toward the earth’s core and we sit in the middle and suck it.
This leads to the second thought that Ryan's inane comment brings to my boiling-on-11 mind.
Why is it that millionaires aren't already assuming their fair share of the tax burden?
And once again, I guess my freckle-faced, apple-pie mentality is showing through my white-picket fence.
Money not only talks, it whistles, giggles and spits. It is the most important thing in today’s world, and there isn't anything even close enough to be considered second.
When you've got it, you can make virtually anything happen. So if you’re Daddy Warbucks and you don't want to pay your share of taxes, you ain't gonna pay your fair share of taxes.
What surprises me the most in all of this kick-the-common-man-in-the-balls-again shaft job is that a large segment of Americans - working stiffs, poor old folks with little or no income and a whole host of other unfortunates that barely have two nickels to rub together - are supporting dirtbags like Ryan and all of these rich suits who would sooner spit on them than help them.
How they can continue to support slime like this while their wallets shrink to the size of a postage stamp is beyond my comprehension.
But then, I’m not an economics expert.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Season's Greetings, Birthday Boy

I don’t think I’m divulging secrets impacting national security when I say I ain’t the world’s most warm-hearted guy.
Nope, not a whole lot of humanitarian awards looming on my horizon.
Outside of Christmas, the only reason I even give a leap about holidays is that they get me a day off. And those, like Columbus Day or Veterans Day, that don’t include an off day could be flushed as far as I care.
I haven’t handed my wife a Valentine’s Day card in forever, I’m not a big booster when it comes to anniversaries and weddings, and anyone who hands me their baby pictures (the only reason the word “cute” even exists) is going to have their feelings hurt.
The only reason I tolerate birthdays is that my mother could kick God’s ass when it comes to baking to-die-for cakes and I’ve gotten a decent present or two in my many years.
In other words, to me, warm and fuzzy means climbing under the covers unshaven.
I do have an Achilles heel, however, and my heartstrings, such as they are, can be tugged. I’m a sucker for my kids.
That doesn’t mean they’re not major pains in the ass most of the time, but they’ll get away with much more crap than anybody else on the planet and even, on very rare occasions, bring a tear to my eye.
So when my son went back to college recently, I had a rare brainstorm – I’ll send him a greeting card. You know, something light that might bring a smile to his face as he prepares for the paper chase, an employment opportunity that doesn’t exist and a world that’s more likely to kick him in the balls than welcome him with open arms.
What an eye-opening fiasco that turned out to be.
There was a time, before this greedy maggot of a planet jaded me beyond repair, that I would actually send greeting cards to people. Girlfriends, my parents, even the odd fellow worker could open an envelope and read the perfunctory Hallmark drivel and my chicken-scratch of a signature.
I don’t even believe I’m stretching belief when I say that I actually enjoyed hunting for just the right card with just the right sentiment.
Ahhh, those were the days.
Unfortunately, as I’ve come to realize in my advancing years, those sugar-coated days are a million miles ahead of anything offered up today.
Today, if you shop for cards, they had better be for an event that’s already proven to be popular, or you’d be best served joining the hunt for the Holy Grail.
Started at Acme, moved on to Hallmark and even, in desperation, tried one of those ridiculous high-falutin’ stationery stores that sells writing paper and cards at fifty bucks a pop because they’re printed on the fancy-schmancy, onion-skin paper we used to use for typing. Isn’t it moronic, don’t ya think?
If it had been my son’s birthday, or Christmas, or Halloween, or if he had just gotten married, sick or pregnant, I’d have been golden. As it was, I was SOL.
I don’t think there are as many black-hearted CEOs as there are types of birthday cards, and I had no idea there were so many occasions that demanded them. Just a brief scan of one rack revealed birthdays cards for the young, the old, milestones (I’m guessing they’re for the birthday boy that just hit his 500th homer), funny cards, romantic cards, holiday birthdays (yeah, I’ll bet those are really in demand) and I actually think I saw a birthday card for a pet.
But beyond that, today’s makers of cards, apparently, don’t acknowledge that folks occasionally buy cards for the hell of it, or to convey greetings, or maybe just to elicit a needed smile.
Nope, if it ain’t your birthday or a holiday, Buckaroo, you’re not gettin’ no greeting card.
It wasn’t always like that. I used to find cards that were funny, thought-provoking and even sad. I’ve sent cards that had nothing to do with anything, that just let whoever it was know I was thinking of them – good or bad.
And what’s with these blank cards? If I wanted to write out my sentiment, I’d send a letter.
Of course, this is just one more example of how this world is now run by bean counters instead of people who have worked in a particular field their entire lives. People who have sold or sent greeting cards in their lifetimes know that cards should be for all occasions. Variety is a plus and cards are not just for those occasions that sales figures show will sell the most units.
I can hear the law being laid down at American Greetings: “Our numbers show that 55 percent of cards sold are for birthdays, 40 percent are for holidays and the rest are get-well cards. We’re not going to manufacture the others, they’re not moving product.”
So now, folks, if you want to send a card you’re limited to just two emotions – happiness and sympathy. If you wish to convey any other I suggest you text, or better yet, keep your damned emotions to yourself.
As for my son’s card, he was thrilled to death that Spider-Man had wished him a happy seventh birthday.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What's Worse than a Purse?

Virtually every woman on the planet carries a purse.
My lifelong question is, why?
At the risk of being branded a sexist – which bothers me about as much as being labeled a person that walks around trees – I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what the fairer sex has of such importance that it requires the carting around of what amounts to a shopping bag every day of their lives.
Sure, as George Carlin so succinctly pointed out, everybody has their stuff. And in some cases, that stuff has to accompany its owner as he/she moves about from here to there.
But the bottom-line question becomes, exactly how much do you need to carry around?
Men’s needs are simple – keys, wallet, maybe glasses, maybe a comb. I guess nowadays there has to be a place for the I-phone-4G-internet-texting-pad contraption. But that handful of crap can be stuffed into pockets and men are good to go.
Let’s see, there’s the same stuff men carry, plus makeup and tampons. You really need a bag for that? And not just a bag. In some cases these overgrown pillow cases women lug around could handle 50 pounds of turnips, with enough room left over for the tampons.
I mean, did you ever accidently get clubbed by a swinging purse? It’s like taking a bowling bowl to the solar plexus.
That’s because women figure, if I’m going to carrying this bottomless pit of a gunny sack around with me 24/7, I might as well try and fill it.
So the stuffing begins, highlighted by all manner of food, pens, pencils, Kleenex, sunglasses, the checkbook, the old no-longer-used checkbook, paper, cigarettes, mirrors, books, hair ties, maps, an I-pod and even mouthwash and toothbrushes.
And you know why? Because it’ll all fit.
C’mon, you’re going to the corner store, you need a map for that?
Mouthwash? God forbid you should offend the toothless high school dropout behind the counter at 7-11 with your breath. What are you gonna tell me, he could turn out to be your soulmate, or at least your future BFF? C’mon, ladies.
When I asked a woman why it was necessary to tote 13 pounds worth of crap around every waking hour of her life while suggesting she use pockets like the (apparently smarter) other gender does, she didn’t club me with her Gucci bag or even brand me a chauvinist wingnut.
Her rational explanation was that it was a fashion thing. Dresses don’t have pockets and most slacks, jeans or Capris have either no pockets or minimal pocket space. She pointed out deep pockets are not the most flattering fashion accessory, and stuffing them full of your stuff might either give the appearance of gained weight or protruding tumors.
So, with pocket space (when available) providing next to zero baggage space, women have no alternative but to upgrade to a suitcase-esque purse.
Got it.
But at what point in time did purses become fashion accessories?
True, it’s nice to have everything on your person match, but owning a white purse and a black purse should just about cover that, shouldn’t it?
Apparently not. So the market has been flooded with millions of purses. Cheap ones, small ones, big ones that cost a little and stamp-sized ones whose cost could feed third-world nations.
Designer purses, designer-knockoff purses, alligator purses, leather purses and glorious red, white and blue patriotic purses.
And they’re freakin’ everywhere. In stores and websites, as Today’s Special Values and Buy One, Get One sales come-ons. And every woman owns hundreds of them, stacked up in closets, hallways, attics, stairways and basements. There’s a corner in my upstairs hallway that is nothing but purses – all colors and styles – with all matter of buckles, snaps, zippers and straps. And most still have the sales tags on them.
And why is that, again? I’d almost rather see you bleed in your underwear.
Gentlemen, the next time you’re getting grief about watching football, drinking beer, buying the latest gadget from that yard sale or collecting baseball cards, tell the missus you’ll stop when she halves her purse collection.
The only drawback is you may get stuck toting the turnips.