Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Gold silverware?"-Jane Jetson, The Jetsons


So, at last the stimulus package has reached the Wilder family. I can report that The Boy has decided that he will quit second grade and begin working a job so he can get that extra $13 a week and do nothing but spend it on cheap Pez®. Oops, he has to get a job first, and it seems that all of the “street urchin” positions have been filled in Houston. So, I guess he’ll have to go and sell hedge funds futures in his Lego™ collection, which is probably a better asset than the third mortgage on a million-dollar condo in Encino that Wells Fargo is calling a “prime asset.”

Warning. What follows is a rant. It may not have the strict technical construction and tight, razor-sharp wit that normally accompanies Wilder By Far. Okay, you’ve been warned.

I try not to make this a political blog, because the one thing that I know politicians fail at horribly is that little thing called “the truth.” Oh, sure, Obama is going to bring “Change”, but frankly I like being alive, drinking beer, and eating steak. If he were going to change those things, well, that would make me sad. If he were going to make me a millionaire so I could spend more time being alive, drinking beer, and eating steak, well, I’d be in favor of that.

Apparently, the “Change” Obama was talking about was his address. Dunno ‘bout you, but I’m with The Who . . . “Please meet the new boss, same as the old boss . . .” Oh, sure, I’m thinking he might ride in on a winged unicorn that craps M&M’s® but I haven’t seen that quite yet.

Call me jaded. I guess that I would look good as a green statue. At least then my abs would be rock hard.

But I digress.

The thing that people forget about the Great Depression is that 70% of people had good jobs. Oh, sure, they had sand-flavored Jell-O® as dessert (or should that be desert?) and had nothing but chicken to eat for eleven years, but they made it through.

Not that it didn’t mess with their nuggets, though. Ma Wilder made it through the depression and made the family save all the tin plates from the Swanson™ TV dinners (this was back before the microwave made such a packaging faux pas a potentially incendiary event). I asked her why she saved TV dinner plates and dill pickle jars once, and she said, “You never know when we might need them.”

I still cannot conceive of a use for Swanson™ TV dinner tins. Perhaps she wanted us to spot-weld them to her Impala© in the event of rust. Other than that? I’m still at a loss. And since we lived in the driest part of the US, where rust was a century-long event, it may be that Ma Wilder was just off a bit.

I also know Ma wanted us to be self sufficient on our 2-1/2 acre slice of heaven. Since the only garden that she had tended for THREE YEARS had produced nothing but itsy-bitsy potatoes (after we had planted big ones) and some anemic strawberries, I hated to tell her that if the USSR ever launched the apocalypse against the US, well, pretty soon we’d be eating dog and sagebrush, since she couldn’t grow formaldehyde in a FEMA trailer.

But Ma Wilder did manage to put some stories through my head that ring familiar now. “Don’t ever buy stocks – that’s how The Man gets ya.” Since Pop Wilder technically was “The Man” in his day job, I didn’t argue this one. Ma Wilder also stored money about the place, and as soon as the Feds allowed purchase of gold again, I think she and Pa bought a bit. I know that at one point they had a LOT of silver coins, to which the disposition thereof was never made clear to me, since they were travelling a long way and came back with oodles of cash in their hands. But I got an Atari™ with Missile Command© soon afterward, so I was cool with that. (This by the way is an example of Gresham’s Law: Bad Money drives out Good and the son of people who have good money can get an Atari™. Silver=Good Money, and everyone kept the silver coins and wouldn’t give them as change. I challenge you thus: have you ever got a real silver (pre-1965 coin) as change at Taco Bell? Nope. So there.)

(OMIGOSH MOMENT: The United States used to mint money that was made of SILVER. ACTUAL SILVER!!! They stopped that when they had most of us conditioned that if it looked silvery, it was money. Fact check: DID YOU KNOW THAT WE USED TO USE GOLD AS MONEY, TOO????)

(Final fact check: DID YOU KNOW THAT THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES WE MAKE MONEY ONLY OF GOLD AND SILVER? “Nor shall . . . any state make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”)

So, now the Treasury is too cheap to make a penny out of copper – because it would actually cost them more than a penny to make. And they didn’t make pennies out of copper way in the past because copper was so expensive – it was because copper was cheap. Did I mention that nickels used to be made of nickel? Yeah, not so much now. I think they make current coins out of the stuff that the chicken processing plants can’t use to make McNuggets®.

The other notion that Ma Wilder put in my head is that you have to take care of each other, in a far greater sense. I know her family took in a young boy and raised him through high school when his parents couldn’t care for him. He ended up calling those sorta-adoptive parents Mom and Dad. This is another good way to ignore The Man.

I used to worry that Congress was creating obligations far in excess of what any economy could ever produce, but that was too scary. Now I worry about fashion. It’s easy. Does this shirt go with that? Hmmm . . . . . Okay, as long as my belt matches my shoes, I’m in the house.

I talked with a friend of mine and he mentioned that this particular financial calamity, still unfolding as I write, was fairly debilitating – it was like being nibbled to death by ducks. Evil, Wall-Street-Banking-Ducks, but, still ducks. It was hard to get mad at the ducks, because they were just being ducks. But the news just keeps getting worse as we go along. I imagine that in Stimulus Package XVII that perhaps the San Francisco 49’ers will defeat the Denver Dread Deflation. My response? Live out of debt (he’s working that way) and remember the important people around you and the love and life you can share. And all that beer that you can drink.

Make no mistake – we are in deflation now. I can go into the husk of a Circuit City© and buy a completely awesome plasma flat screen for a third of what it was last year. Same thing in Best Buy™. Heck, they even had a Wii© in stock for the first time, well, ever.

I remember seeing a Mad™ Magazine comic from my brother’s collection that summed it up: deflation is where everything is cheap, but nobody has any money. If only a Stimulus Helicopter would fly by . . . .

Perhaps I need to look into that street urchin job . . .
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ma Wilder's family done good by
taking that boy in. I'm betting
he lives by those rules of life,
and tells others of them when
he can.

Tell me that he's brought up a few
kids and tried to instill the same
ethics, and I'll be a happy man.

8:02 PM  
Blogger John said...

It was a good thing. Though he's passed away now, as near as I can tell he passed it on - he adopted several children, and lived an honorable, ethical life. Dang it, I want to say something funny here, but it's just not there.

8:13 PM  

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