Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where did the money go, Part II

I had a boss (who I will name Jimbo) who married a high maintenance woman.  Like many man, he was proud of the fact that she was needy and he was (one of the few) who could meet those needs.

She came from a very wealthy family.  Jimbo told about how he was impressed by the fact that "Daddy" gave her a 7 series BMW to use as her daily ride.  None of those cheap 3 series Bimmers for her.

They bought a house in one of the Grosse Pointes.  They had five sons.  Mrs Jimbo dabbled at work.  Jimbo paid the bills.

An example of "dabbled at work" is when she opened a yarn store.  She liked fiber arts and spent extraordinary amounts of money on tiny hanks of boutique yarn.  She figured everybody did.  She signed a lease.  Bought yarn to stock it.  And she lost a boat load of money.  No biggy.  She kept the yarn and handed the bill to Jimbo.  Problem solved.

The way Jimbo solved the problem was to visit his friendly, neighborhood bank and refinance his house every time the credit cards hit their max.  That happened every two years.  He would extract $20,000 or $30,000 from his house and zero out their credit card balances.


The credit cards maxed out in a year when the economy hit an air pocket.  That was the year Bill Clinton said, "Its the economy, stupid." and the American public fired George H. Bush.

Jimbo went to the bank.  He was led to a quiet office in back.  The door was closed.  The branch manager said, "Jimbo, I cannot loan you any more money.  Technically, you owe more on the house than the house is worth.  There is no 'equity' to extract."

Jimbo went back home and told his darling bride that there was no more money, that the Jimbo family was going to have to tighten its belt.

She divorced him

Mrs Jimbo did not have a very large circle of friends.  She stuck to her "type" and there simply were not that many non-family people in her socio-economic strata.

In her universe, there was only one possible reason for "there is no more money" :  Jimbo had a girl friend and was going to dump her.

Her lawyer told her that she would be seriously disadvantaged if Jimbo filed first.

She filed.

Jimbo was blindsided.

He asked her, "We are not making it on 100% of my paycheck.  How do you figure that you + the five boys will do better on half of it?"

She was deaf to that argument.

"...not enough money so we have to tighten our belts", to her, was as foreign of a concept as "...we exceed our gravity budget so we need to strap the furniture down."  Money was an inexhaustible force of nature.

The Economy

Is there any doubt that the national story parallels Jimbo's sad story?  The right pocket is being robbed to pay the left.  Expectations are being protected at all costs.  Too many adults are playing at "work" that is a thinly disguised form of consumption.

The policy makers are doubling down.  The  propeller of the ship did not hit an air pocket.  Rather, it is in full-blown cavitation mode.  It is creating air pockets.  And the captain is still calling for "More power!"

The plaintive cry "Where did the money go." is de facto evidence that we have been living beyond our means and disguising the fact through fancy bookkeeping gymnastics.  The money was never there.  It was magic.

Those of you who are reading this at work can run a little experiment.  Hold your hand up so it is backlit by the fluorescent light fixtures.  Shake it vigorously.  See!  You now have ten fingers!  Move things fast enough and you can create the illusion that it doubled.

Divorces bring out the worst in most people.  It makes them vengeful.  They want to hurt, to inflict pain on those they see as the villain.  I see a divorce coming.  It won't be pretty.  Stay away from crowds.  Expect people to be irrational.


  1. Even MORE irrational when their freebies/'entitlements' get cut...

    1. The internet is truly a miracle. I have think thoughts, my fingers wabble-and-dart about....and my deepest thoughts materialize in a head 700 miles away from my home.

      It is a miracle I tell you, a miracle!