'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THE STIMULUS CHECK IS IN THE MAIL
I’ve got a little problem. Last month, on a lark, I applied for a small portion of the $800 billion economic stimulus package. (Well, it’s actually more like $1.3 trillion if you count the interest payments since the entire amount must be borrowed. But what’s a few hundred billion among friends?) I filled out a pile of paperwork and sent it in to Washington, D.C.
In the paperwork I explained that I am the Director of the “Institute of Competitive Observation and Disputation,” and the Institute has a crucial “shovel-ready” construction project desperately in need of funding, which will put countless unemployed New Englanders back to work.
What I really meant by that is I have some friends who like to come over and watch TV with me (the “observation” part). What we usually watch is sports (the “competitive” part). And what we invariably do is argue about which team is better, why did the coach make such a bone-headed move, how could the refs be so blind, etc. (the “disputation” part). “Shovel-ready” simply means we are always ready to shovel more Fritos into our faces while watching the games. The number of unemployed New Englanders who will be put back to work is “countless” because there are none to count.
When I prepared the documents, I made sure to use a lot of fancy words and phrases that are commonly used by lawyers and politicians and all those Gimme-Gimme Groups that have been lining up to beg for their “fair share” of someone else’s money. You know what I mean: use eight pages to describe something that can be summarized easily in one paragraph. I think the idea is to cause the particular government bureaucrat who is assigned to read the application to go into a coma before ever finishing. Then when 4 p.m. rolls around, he will wake up, stamp the form “approved,” and go home for the night.
Anyway, here’s my little problem: when I looked in my mailbox yesterday, included with a copy of Sports Illustrated and the phone bill was a check from the U.S. Treasury Department for 1.5 billion dollars. The exact amount is: $1,500,000,003.50. I think they added in an extra $3.50 for a jumbo bag of Fritos.
With that money I could build a sports bar ten times the size of the Warner Theater, with flat-screen TVs covering every square inch of the walls, ceilings, and floors. (Floors? Sure, if you spill your beer and ruin a TV, we’ll just buy another one—TV, I mean. You have to buy your own replacement beer. Whataya think this is, some charity for free-loaders?!)
One hundred of my closest friends could quit their jobs and become Associate Members of the Institute and receive an annual salary of $150,000 each. However, everyone would have to take a loyalty oath, promising to root only for the Red Sox during baseball season. (Hey, I’m the Director; I can make the rules.)
If we spend $100 million constructing the facility and then, say, $30 million per year in expenses and salaries for members, we won’t run out of money until the year 2055. Sounds good to me.
My main problem is what to do with the money in the meantime. I don’t know if I should cash the check and put it in a passbook savings account or just have the bank give it to me in 10s and 20s. I’m certainly not going to put the funds into government Treasury Bills. You can’t trust those guys in Washington D.C. They’re too irresponsible when it comes to money.
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