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The Truth, Mainly - 03/17/2003

God, Humvees, and budget deficits

"You know what we really, really need?" I ask my wife.

"A new vacuum?" she says, not looking up from her crossword puzzle.

"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 thousand."

"Is that it?" she says. "Any other compelling reasons to buy a Humvee?"

"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 hear?"

"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 loan."

"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 President—who 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, not surplus."

"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 destroyed."

"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 healing."

"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 President."


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is: leonsatterfield@earthlink.net.


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