"You know what we really, really need?" I ask my wife.
"A new vacuum?" she says, not looking up from her crossword
"Well," I say, "we may sort of need a new vacuum. But that's not
what we really, really need. Think. What do we really, really need?"
"What?" she says, stifling a yawn.
"A Humvee," I say. "We really, really need a big honker Humvee."
"Of course," she says. "What is a big honker Humvee?"
"Only the King of the Road, that's all," I say. "It's military.
It's invincible. Weighs six or seven tons. Sits up high so you see over
everything. Four-wheel drive. Armor-plated. And listen to this: it
gets the lowest gas mileage of anything short of a Sherman tank."
"So," she says, "why do we really, really need a Humvee?"
"Respect," I say. "Fear. Nobody messes with you when you've got
a Humvee. You can impose your will on others when you've got a Humvee."
"Oh, good," she says. "Anything else?"
"They cost a lot of money," I say. "Sixty, seventy, even eighty
"Is that it?" she says. "Any other compelling reasons to buy a
"God told me to," I say. "Said I really, really need a Humvee."
"She did, did She?" my wife says. "How come?"
"Well, I can't quote Him directly," I say. "That would be a
breach of security. But He's got real moral clarity about it. Left no
doubt in my mind."
"Isn't it nice," she says, "how from our chief executive to our
most befuddled retired English teacher, God tells us just what we want to
"Hah?" I say.
"I suppose we'll have to sell the house to pay for the Humvee,"
she says. "Can we live in the Humvee?"
"Don't need to sell the house, m'love," I say. "God said to get a
"We've already got a loan on the house," she says. "Is it a good
idea to go another $80,000 in debt for a big honker Humvee?"
She's such a child about money.
"You're such a child about money," I tell her. "God told me He
would forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors."
"We don't have any debtors," she says, rolling her eyes.
"Besides," I say, "it's sound fiscal policy to go into debt, the
deeper the better."
"Says who?" she says.
"Says God," I say. "And our Presidentwho not only understands
how to win friends and influence people in the U.N., he also understands about
the healing power of skyrocketing budget deficits."
"He does?" she says. "He doesn't look like he understands. Did
you notice that zoned-out look on his face at his news conference?"
"You can't judge a man's understanding of the healing power of
skyrocketing budget deficits by the zoned-out look on his face," I say.
"Remember, he's the political heir of his father and Ronald Reagan, and
everyone knows they were such good presidents because between them they
quadrupled the national debt. And that was good."
The Truth, Mainly
"Why?" she says. "And how's it apply to our current shepherd?"
"Well," I say, marshalling my vast economic knowledge, "when the
President was inaugurated two years ago, the Congressional Budget Office
was projecting a ten-year surplus of $5.6 trillion. But now, with all the
divinely ordained military spending and all the divinely ordained tax
cuts, the CBO is projecting a ten-year deficit of $1.8 trillion. Deficit,
"That's good?" she says. "Deficits are better than surpluses?"
She's cute when she asks naive questions like that.
"If God is your Financial Advisor," I say, "and He says deficits
are better, then they're better."
"Why," she says, "would God say that?"
"Because," I say, "it'll mean the government will have less money
for Social Security and Medicare. And everyone knows that Social Security
and Medicare corrupt us because they're socialism and socialism destroys
our moral fibers. God doesn't like it when our moral fibers get
"But," she says, "we're both on Social Security and Medicare. I
haven't noticed that any of my moral fibers are destroyed. Are yours?"
"Well," I say, "I've been feeling a little morally puny lately.
And I believe that's why God says I really, really need to buy a big
honker Humvee and go $80,000 further in debt. I believe that would be very
"You," she says, "have the monetary instincts of a slow
eight-year-old. Deficits good, surpluses bad. Reduce income, increase
outgo. Next thing you know, you'll start printing your own money and
print your way out of debt."
"What a good idea," I say. "I believe I'll telephone the
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail