Friday, December 14, 2007

Has The Economy Got You Feeling Tents?

I’m worried about the economy.

Oops! I can’t say that.

If we media types keep having public misgivings about the economy, it might prompt you consumers to stop buying stuff, and then we’d be just a few short months away from martial law and agonized screaming in the streets at all hours.

So let’s just be clear: nothing’s wrong with the economy. Keep making your holiday purchases, and I’ll try to find some black market medication to calm my nerves.

It’s not going to be easy. Why?

For starters, a recent issue of The Economist detailed how the Dollar is quickly losing value compared to other forms of currency, like the Euro, the Yen, and the Parasitic Insects that Monkeys Pick Off Each Other.

We can't have people around the world choosing some other currency (i.e. their own) to measure wealth. That would be a disaster because… well, I sort of zoned out on that part of the article. Just trust me on this.

You see, The Economist is a pretty sophisticated publication. For example: the major “teaser” on another recent cover said, “INSIDE THIS WEEK: SPECIAL REPORT ON AUSTRIA.” I’d like to be the kind of person who cares about a special report on Austria, but I’m just not sophisticated enough. I'd be lucky to find it on a map.

Plus, The Economist doesn’t sully its pages with lowbrow foolishness like photography, bylines, or source attribution.

So the people who run this publication are clearly advanced journalists. But I was still able to glean the symbolic message from the image on the cover, which showed the dollar bill version of George Washington piloting an open-cockpit airplane going down in flames.

(They even gave him cute little pilot goggles -- a considerate, yet sophisticated design touch.)

Part of the problem, apparently, is that the US. “continues to finance its consumption” by amassing debt. This, quite frankly, does not strike me as something we Americans would ever do.

That brings me to the situation with the housing market. Banks have spent the last several years giving out mortgages like candy canes, which means now anyone who ever wanted a house has got one.

This is bad news if you want to sell. A family that bought a $150,000 home just three years ago has seen the value of that home reduced to just a few thousand Parasitic Insects.

Meanwhile, people who were duped into “sub-prime” mortgages with complimentary Invisible Willy Wonka-Style Ballooning Interest can’t afford the jackrabbity payments and are losing their homes. This may be great for the tent industry, but it spells doom for millionaire real estate investors.

I'm tempted to join the chorus of media making a big deal about the cost of energy, but help is on the way on that front.

The Bush Administration will carefully consider our pleas for more low-income heating assistance, then hold a photo-op press conference with Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins where he'll announce that we should “leave the thermostat alone” and “go put on a sweater.”

So things are looking up.

Besides, as I said: nothing’s wrong with our economy, especially if we compare it to the economy of Zimbabwe, where the national statistician has given up calculating the inflation rate, which, according to The Economist, has now grown past 8000%.

That makes our 3.5% look quite spiffy.

And it makes Zimbabwe the place to get a nice deal on a tent, if you're in the market.

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