Monday, October 25, 2010

Forgive Us Our Debts

If you need any more proof that “trickle down economics” doesn’t work for the little guy, just look back a little ways to the bailouts of the banks and auto industries. How’d that work out for you? I mean, if you weren’t a bank or an auto company. Tried to borrow any money lately?
Here’s what I, with all my vast economic expertise, said back then: Give the money to the people, and let it trickle up. The gumment could have done that, with the qualification that if the individual who got the money owed it on a mortgage or an auto lien, they had to pay on those first. The end result would have been that the mortgage and auto industries benefited, as well as the individuals who owed the money – because, even if the money wouldn’t have paid off their liens, they would have owed that much less after making the payments. No?
But then we’d have had all these good Americans screaming that was “Socialist.” Of course, it’s not Socialism if the money is given to the corporations. That’s just another step toward the Oligarchy that is our destiny. After all, the corporations call all the shots here anyway. But, at least it’s not Socialism. We couldn’t live with Socialism. Socialism, bad.
Well, since that little plan worked out swimmingly, what do all ya’ll anti-Socialist good American citizens plan to pull the US out of this economic abyss we’re in? Give tax breaks to the big corporations…so they can…pay big bonuses to their top people, while mortgage foreclosures are at an all-time high? People are getting booted out of homes they’ve tried to pay on for years. Others, who can afford their mortgage payments, are walking away from them in what are called “strategic defaults,” because they find it economically impractical to pay more for their property than it’s worth. The Mortgage Bankers Association comes out and chastises those people for walking away from their obligations – belittling them – but, a little investigation by The Daily Show revealed that they, themselves, strategically defaulted on their own mortgage. Yep. They skated away from their bargain $41.3 million mortgage on their headquarters, because they found it was cheaper to rent. Ya think? Go back and re-read that, will you?
I’ve read editorials explaining how following the policies of this “socialist” Democratic Party are going to lead us all to serfdom. Say it again? Do you people know what “serfdom” is? Could you do us the favor of looking it up before you write something like that? When the bigshots (aka the corporations) have outright and total control of everything, and we’re all at their beck and call, what, exactly, would you call that system? Can anybody see us ending up any other way, no matter what party inherits control of the government? I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, or anything, but allow me to submit the idea that we’re well beyond the time to panic.
The solution to this crisis has to be some radical, out-of-the-box new thinking. And I’ve found it, in the form of an early 1900’s plan by an Arkansas visionary named William Hope “Coin” Harvey.
You may not realize this, but they were having some financial difficulties back then, also. Coin’s idea was to forgive all debt, and abolish credit. D’ja get that? Forgive all debt. That means, if you owe somebody something, the slate is wiped clean. You keep your house, or your car, or your boat or your big ol’ flatscreen TV, because it’s in your possession, and you don’t owe any more money on it. If somebody owes you, well, they don’t anymore. Then, we simply start all over, with none of us owing anybody anything, and nobody owing us, without credit.
“But, Rick!” You scream, “You socialist piece of something that can’t be printed here! That’s socialist, and therefore, it must be evil! What about those who are owed more than they owe? They’re getting the short end of the stick.”
You think? You mean, like, the Mortgage Bankers Association? Do you actually know anybody who is owed more than they owe? Do you think they would truly suffer from such an arrangement – say as badly as those millions who are getting tossed out of their homes, living in tents in the woods or in dumpsters behind restaurants where they can scarf up some of the food they throw away? Kind of hard to keep a job when you’re living like that, I’d guess. I mean, the co-worker in the next cubicle probably won’t stand for too many whiffs.
“But, Rick! That’s not fair to me! I’ve worked hard all my life to get all the cool stuff I have, and it’s paid for! Now you’re just going to let all these deadbeats who owe money catch up to me on the ladder to success?”
Poor you. Dig this. Every game has a winner…and an end. Let’s just say you won, and start a new game. Game over. Re-shuffle the deck and let’s see how you do going forward. Don’t worry about remaining ahead of others. There are plenty of people nowadays who don’t have anything, even that they owe for, and you can still look down on them!
Hey, it ain’t my idea. Like I said, it’s radical new thinking from the early 1900’s. I’m just tossing it out there for discussion. Tell me the downside. Try to make it believable.


Book signings for PURITY and DINNER with WT are tentatively set for November 20, a Saturday, at Paper Chase in Batesville. Call them to get your books reserved. We hope to see you there!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Confessions of a Grammar Nazi

No, you couldn’t tell by reading my column, or my books, or my blog, or anything else I write, but, I guess, I’m a grammar nazi. Reading some Facebook comments following a post by Alyson Low, this revelation hit me like a sack full of mud. I realize I have no right, but I get really irritated by the little things.
The catalyst for the conversation regarded the use of the word “less” in place of the appropriate word, “fewer.” It’s done all the time – even on TV commercials. This particular one was a TV network that advertised “less commercials.” Alyson explained that "Less" is a modifier for singular nouns, not plural ones. I don’t know if that’s how the rule is stated, having been blissfully unconcerned with such matters when I was expected to be learning them, but it sounds right. I’ve always applied my own rule that “less” would be used in reference to something in the abstract – say, “money” – and “fewer” would be used in reference to something more concrete – like, “dollars.” Less intelligence. Fewer brain cells.
Now, because I am so miffed by seemingly insignificant things like this, some would comment, “Rick, your a jerk.” And, this would just cause me to think “My what is a jerk?” See? The word is a contraction, joining the words “you” and “are.” I’m not angry because you called me a jerk. My wife calls me that all the time. I’m angry because you did it wrong. I wouldn’t say “My a jerk.” I’d say “I’m a jerk.”
Then, somebody might come along and write “Rick, you’re right about this, but you’re letting yourself get a little to upset about it.” And that would upset me even more. What does that mean? I’m letting myself get a little…to upset about what? I realize that the “to/too” thingamajig is an easy typo, and not necessarily indicative of the writer’s mastery of the English language, as much as, perhaps, there typing skills, but, when it happens every time it causes me to wonder. My son called me one day and told me I’d made this same mistake in my latest novel. He was right. But THAT was a typo!
Uh huh. Back up there in that last paragraph, I said “there typing skills.” That’s another one I’m seeing run rampant on the pages of Facebook. Just wanted to see if you’d catch it. Typing skillls? Where? Every time I see something like this, I instinctively duck my head, expecting to be whacked on the back of the neck with a ruler by Ms. Pittman or Ms. Felts. No, they didn’t really do that, but those red circles on the pages were probably more painful.
Come on, people! It’s a complicated set of rules, but the concept of adherence to their usage is the reason they’re there. There, there. Don’t be too mad at me for bringing it up to you, two times in the same paragraph. I know you’re aware that it’s your language, too. Truth is, if you simply want to ignore these rules, there are ways you can do it and never get caught. First, you could become a writer. We do it all the time. People who are smart enough to catch the faux pas don’t know if they’re really mistakes, or we’re using creative license – doing it for effect. Or, is that “affect”? Let the editor figure it out.
The second way to avoid this grammatical bondage is to join the texting generation. Do it while you’re driving, and maybe putting on lipstick and talking on your other phone, in a school zone, at 8 am, going 40 mph. You’ll fit right in.

“OMG ur so sweet 2 LMK iv got 2 cops OMT! Luv u 2!”


Book signings for PURITY and DINNER with WT are tentatively set for November 20, a Saturday, at Paper Chase in Batesville. Call them too get you’re books reserved. We hope to see you their!