At the turn of the century, the United States government was running a surplus. Eleven years later, we’re running a trillion-dollar deficit. What happened? Well, in rough chronological order: we cut taxes; suffered a mild recession; endured a large-scale terrorist attack; went to war with Afghanistan; created the Department of Homeland Security; went to war with Iraq; added a prescription drug benefit to Medicare; sent stimulus checks to every American; suffered a severe recession; bailed out big, insolvent banks; bailed out big, insolvent automakers; engineered a second stimulus consisting of corporate tax cuts, individual tax credits, aid to states, and road construction projects; provided rebates to people who traded in their cars; extended a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers; reached an agreement to keep income taxes from rising; cut payroll taxes; and went to war with Libya. How will it all end? Call me cynical, but (what’s left of) my money is on Congress doing nothing until Social Security and Medicare are flat broke, then raising payroll taxes (which retired, abundant, and eager-to-vote baby boomers won’t be obliged to pay) in order to cover the difference.
Archive for the ‘Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!’ Category
A few weeks ago, I asked to take a vacation day on Friday, April 29. Little did I know that the royal wedpocalypse was scheduled for that same day. Had I bothered to turn on the TV this morning, I would have surely been inundated with images of Prince William and Kate Middleton at their ceremonious best. Instead, I went for a short run and enjoyed a sunny spring day in Chicago. My heart was pounding when I got home, and that certainly wouldn’t have been the case had I tuned in to BBC America. There are some things worth waking up at 5:00am for; the crowning of a princess is not one of them.
Do I have weaknesses? Sure. Habits? Absolutely. Addictions? Well…no…or at least not in the strictest sense of the word. Although there are some things I do every day (drink green tea, ride my bicycle, read the comics), I’m more prone to short-term compulsions than long-term addictions. When I was a freshman in high school, I played basketball every day. When I bought a Nintendo Wii, I devoted countless hours to motion-controlled tennis. And these past few weeks, I’ve been hung up on Spanish rice and tortilla chips. The thing about these passions is that they fade away as quickly as they appear. What’s next? Who knows…maybe cheese balls.
Salt melts snow? That’s news to me. Every time it snows I do my best to shovel the sidewalks, but I always end up missing a spot or two. Maybe the uneven concrete is to blame for this, or the prevalence of boot-compacted snow that’s practically impossible to remove. Maybe I’m just lazy – who knows? What I do know is that the salty mixture I use to coat the sidewalks afterward does little to melt the straggling snowflakes, which is not to say that it has no effect. It does leave hideous streaks on my gloves – streaks that manage to stay there for weeks on end. Joy.
Before I bought a house, I didn’t think about my bathtub much. Sure, I cleaned the tile every now and then. I even used a drain stopper to make sure hair didn’t clog the pipes. But routine maintenance aside, I tended to ignore the bathtub. Now that I own a house, I find myself pondering the aesthetics of my tub, calculating the cost of stripping peeling paint from the basin, and trying not to worry about the effects of steam on drywall. Every once in a while, I let my mind wander into grout territory. Then I stop and remind myself that a hot shower will make me feel much, much better.
I’ve spent hours gutting my basement this summer and have come to the conclusion that water is hard to control. From the looks of it, rain had been seeping into the finished basement for years, causing the drywall and wood frame to become moldy. But before those can be replaced, my wife and I will need to waterproof the basement. That means sealing cracks on the interior and exterior to prevent seepage, installing a backup sump pump to protect against power outages, and praying that the sewers in our neighborhood remain intact. That’s a lot of variables to deal with, especially when confronting something as persistent as rainwater.
Who could have guessed how much fun it would be to ponder the horrors of a bear-shark coalition? Well, it is fun. Let’s see, maybe the bears could grow gills and engage in a terrible war against the whales (with sharks by their side, of course). Or the sharks could ride around in giant aquariums, complete with futuristic weapons systems and loudspeakers to broadcast their sharkly demands. (The aquariums would be lifted onto the backs of bears, of course.) Or maybe, maybe, the bears and sharks could both learn to fly in an effort to hunt down tasty birds. The possibilities are endless…