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Lit Lovers Rejoice! Sir Archie Ferndoodle Rides Again.

28 Mar

by Roger White                                                                              

 

Fellow time/space voyagers and other occasional devotees of “This Old Blouse,” I am more tickled than a coffee can full of dung beetles to announce the return of my dear friend, back-porch expectorational master, and legendary raconteur of the obsequious and purulent, Sir Archie Ferndoodle (applause, applause, applause).

As I’m sure you remember, the esteemed Dr. Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in postmodern comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College and has been featured five times in the American Anthology of Poetry. Just a few of his classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and possibly his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today.”

Sir Archie has a rare treat for us in this installment. In his inimitable style, the Fernman has taken several classic tunes from the songbook of popular culture and rendered them as his own, with updated, shall we say, acerbic lyrics so pertinent to today’s manic milieu. Or something.

Disclaimer: The Spouseman—and the newspaper/periodical/bathroom wall compendium in which this diatribe appears—doesn’t necessarily agree with the views and opinions of Sir Archie. He is his own woman, and we bear no responsibility or legal burden for his espousings. So there.

With this heartfelt caveat (and sincere attempt to head off legal action), I give you Sir Archie’s renderings. By the way, it’s important to keep the tune of Archie’s specific song choice in your head for these to make any sense whatsoever. If that is, indeed, possible. So. Archie’s first offering is called “Ivanka in the White House”:

 

Ivanka in the White House

(to the tune of “Drive My Car” by The Beatles)

(verse 1)

“I asked my girl where she wanted to be,

In New York City or in D.C.,

She said Daddy, I wanna be near you,

In the White House with Jared the Jew.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

We’ll set you up with all of your bling,

You can sell your furs and your rings,

And Dad will tweet for you.”

 

(verse 2)

“Barron’s got a floor to himself,

With a team of counselors for his mental health,

But Melania and I aren’t sharin’ a bed,

So you could move in with me instead.”

 

(chorus)

“Ivanka, you can have the West Wing,

Or you-know-where, I won’t say a thing,

Damn, it’s so good to be the king,

And Putin, I owe you.”

 

“Tweet, tweet n tweet, tweet, yeah!”

 

Um, ok. For his second favoring, the Fernman has rendered this ditty entitled “Perry in Charge”:

 

Perry in Charge

(to the tune of Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady”)

(verse 1)

“Well, I’m the Energy Top Dude,

And now solar power’s screwed ’cause oil’s my cash cow,

Yeah, I ran for president,

I told Donald to get bent, but that’s all past now.”

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Those rumors are false, ’cause I’m no fairy,

And I’m towin’ the Trump line.”

 

(verse 2)

“Well, I’m not sure what I do,

But I think I make the rules on nukular weapons,

But this can’t be as hard

As Dancing with the Stars, man, I was steppin’,”

 

(chorus)

“I’m Rick Perry, woah, woah, woah,

I’m Rick Perry,

Renewable power’s our adversary,

Let’s build that pipeline.”

 

And last, and surely least, Ferndude gives us “Lysergic Wood,” which he says is his ode to psychedelic substances:

 

Lysergic Wood, An Ode to LSD

(to the tune of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”)

(verse 1)

“I once ate a squirrel,

Or should I say the squirrel ate me,

He showed me his brain,

We baked it into a nice quiche lorraine.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons,

As the walls melted into the sea,

Then Timothy Leary appeared

And said why’d you take three?”

 

(verse 2)

“I played canasta with Jesus,

His Holiness beat me two games out of threezus,

Then me and the squirrel flew to Mars,

But squirrel wasn’t squirrel, he was Pat Benatar.”

 

(chorus)

“We smoked purple crayons

As robots made love to the cow,

Then Hunter S. Thompson said man you’re in big trouble now.”

 

(verse 3)

“And when I awoke,

I was in a cell with a large man named Mel.

He kept pinching my ass,

Dear God from now on, I’m sticking with grass.”

 

Roger White Sir Archie Ferndoodle holds an associate’s degree in comparative limerick studies from the University of Southern Panama’s Correspondence College. Sir Archie’s classics include “Oh, Staff Sergeant, My Staff Sergeant!,” “Why Is the Man Always from Nantucket?,” and perhaps his greatest epic, “The Squirrels Stopped Talking to Me Today,” For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Texas President Norris Asks U.S. to Reconsider ‘Texit’

5 Jul

by Roger White

 

DATELINE: University Park, Texas; November 16, 2019. A scant six months after Texas was granted full secession rights by U.S. President Hillary Clinton and Congress, Texas President Chuck Norris has officially petitioned the United States to reconsider the Texas Republic’s momentous “Texit” vote and allow the prodigal state back into the Union.

Chuckie and Hillary

The Texas Republic, reeling from skyrocketing unemployment following the loss of more than 200,000 former federal jobs and 350,000 jobs related to former ties with the U.S., was hit with another devastating—and ironic—blow in August when Mexican President George Lopez ordered thousands of border agents to turn back Texans attempting to cross the border into Mexico to seek employment. Lopez also discussed plans with the Mexican Cabinet to construct a protective wall along the Rio Grande to “keep the Texican rapists and criminals out.”

 

Seventy-one percent of Texas voters opted to leave the United States in a milestone election in May 2019—an unprecedented move termed the “Texit,” which came into favor in the wake of the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union in 2016. Members of the “Texit” faction, led by Texas Vice-President Dan Patrick and Texas Secretary of the Interior Alex Jones, pushed the secession movement to success in the polls with promises of a completely rebranded Texas national identity, including such measures as the one man-one woman marriage doctrine, guarantees of government-funded automatic weapons for every household, abolition of left-wing elitist solar and wind power, and the mandatory death penalty for abortion providers.

kiddie guns

“These sorely needed changes in the way of life of true Texans mean liberty and freedom,” said Patrick, a former sportscaster and radio talk-show host. “Leftist intellectuals bent on destroying our way of life use that inflated claim of 179,000 household firearms accidents in the three months since we issued every Texan citizen his own AK-47 assault weapon, but I can tell you these numbers are not accurate. And besides, it’s a small price to pay for liberty. The bottom line here is liberty, and freedom. And liberty.”

 

Norris, elected Texas president shortly after the Texas Congress voted to move the new nation’s capital from Austin to University Park near SMU, cited growing “minor issues” problematic to the fledgling country—such as the estimated $100 billion unpaid water bill owed the United States for continued fresh-water supply, an almost total loss of international commerce brought about by a worldwide boycott of Texas goods and services due to the nation’s stance on gay and women’s rights, and a nationwide health crisis caused by Texas’ ban on environmental protections.

 

“In time, I am sure we Texans can find solutions to these trivial inconveniences,” said Norris, as he signed a presidential decree to transform every third high school in the Texas nation into maximum-security Prison Highpenitentiaries to fully house the nation’s burgeoning prison population. “But we feel that, given our close ties to our former country and knowing how the U.S. has lacked for decent Tex-Mex food and has suffered from practically zero decent NFL draft picks this year, it is time to reconsider our affiliation with the U.S.”

 

One issue that may stall progress in Norris’ talks with the U.S. is Clinton’s call for the immediate stand-down of Texas troops, which have maintained a tight ring around the breakaway state of Austin since June 2019, when the former state capital pledged allegiance to the United States and voted to secede from Texas. Weeks after Texas national troops surrounded the besieged city, Clinton called on U.S. air power to drop food, medicine, and supplies behind the “Fajita Curtain” into designated drop zones in the former Texas capital city.

 

The watershed incident that prompted Austin’s split with the Texas nation, according to Austin Governor Willie Nelson, came when Texas Attorney General Ted Cruz announced the nation’s new mandatory 30-year prison sentence for possession of marijuana. “They’re outta their minds,” Nelson said in a press release. “My entire band is locked up in Round Rock High School now—I mean Round Rock Maximum Security Facility No. 3.”

 

Latest word is that U.S. President Clinton is favoring the return of the Texas Republic into the American fold, with the conditions that Texas change its motto from “Don’t Mess with Texas” to “We Messed Up, Texas” and formally apologize to the nation for Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Enron debacle, and Rick Perry.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a morbidly obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Prine Was Right: Blow Up Your TV

4 Jan

by Roger White

 

“Blow up your TV, throw away your paper,

Go to the country, build you a home…”

—from “Spanish Pipedream,” by John Prine

 

I work for an education association, whose ebb and flow of timelines, lull seasons, and get-it-done-yesterday crunch times generally follows the public schools calendar. This does not mean I get the whole summer off or that I have to take some sort of final exams every semester. But it does mean I get a nice chunk of time off during the Christmas break. Or should I say Holiday Break, or Winter Break, to be properly PC. But if I say “Winter Break,” then I’m accused of waging war on Christmas—whatever that is—by the anti-war-on-Christmas people, whoever they are. Seems there are an inordinate number of highly sensitive, easily offended, extremely angry subgroups of people out there these days, and almost any topic—from eating a hamburger to wearing a headscarf to saying “bless you” when somebody sneezes—is now an emotional mine field of potential hurt feelings and mob-mentality retribution.

reallyFor example, overheard at a local Wal-Mart recently:

“Dammit, Zebulon, these friggin’ Moslems is takin’ over the place. Look over thar, in home improvement. Dang scarf-wearin’ terrurist jee-haddys…”

“Yeah, I here ya, Jebediah. Hey, Zeke! Lee Roy! We got us a … wait, that’s my mom in the scarf. She didn’t want nobody to see her curlers.”

“Oh. Well. That’s awright, I guess.”

But while we’re on the subject, wouldn’t the term “Winter Break” be considered offensive to those folks who deem autumn as their favorite season? We have Spring Break; we have Summer Break; and now with the newly christened “Winter Break” we are kicking poor, unloved autumn to the curb, aren’t we? We have no “Fall Break.” I’m pissed off! This is War on Fall! Anti-Autumn Armageddon! I’m organizing a protest! Where’s Fox News?

OK, wait. Once again, I digress. Anyway, yes, so this lovely fortnight of vacation I get every, uh, late December allows me the blessed opportunity to back away from the grind. To sit in the backyard with a fire in the fire pit, a warm drink in hand, and nothing on my mind but determining how to get the (insert your preferred holiday here) boxes down from the attic without upsetting the raccoon family that has taken up permanent residence up there.

I have found that during this heavenly lull I tend to watch less news on TV and scarcely come near the computer, which is where I usually receive my daily dose of terror, misery, innuendo, and fear-mongering via CNN and other websites.

And despite the season’s family dramas, gift-hunting mayhem, and traffic gridlock gnashing of teeth—not to mention the annual overdose of turkey, libations, and too much party silliness—I find that my anxiety level and blood pressure go way down. Two weeks without Trump, Cruz, Clinton, terrorist plots for world overthrow, Planned Parenthood bombings, Dow Jones doom and gloom, the affluenza teen, Bill Cosby revelations, and viral cat-in-the-microwave stories tend to hit me like a soft pillow in the face. The crap the media spews at us 24/7 isn’t our world.

And all you have to do is turn it off. You can blow it up, if you’ve a mind, but just hitting the “off” button will suffice. Aaah. That’s nice.

So why take only a (insert your preferred holiday here) break from the muck and the madness? I was never much on New Year’s resolutions, but I believe I have one for 2016: Less CNN, Trump, Hannity, msnbc, Fox, and all those “World’s Most Extreme Terrible Things” shows—and more backyard reflection. More walks, more friends, more board games. If you still have the old Aggravation board game gathering cobwebs in the closet, pull it out, dust it off, and get the kids around. It’s fun.

Don’t have Aggravation? OK, Monopoly then. Just try to ignore the fact that Monopoly is based on properties in Atlantic City, New Jersey, a town practically owned by…you know who. I’m tellin’ ya, if that candy-haired blowhard gets anywhere near the White House, I’m moving the family to…

Time out. Breathe. Forget Monopoly. Stick with Aggravation. Or the backyard fire pit. Aaah, there we go.

aggravation

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

Pondering Life’s Little Scams, Schemes, and Swindles

7 Jul

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So I was standing in the shower attempting to loofah my stretch marks when one of wifey’s standing army of haircare products amassed on the shower shelf caught my eye. It was a shiny, dazzling thing, the color of polished gold. The container’s meant to grab your attention, you see, designed to stand apart from the plethora of shampoos and such that crowd the grocery shelves. Marketers never cease to amuse. Gold equals value, see, so this shampoo must be head and shoulders above the rest. Ouch, that was unintentional. So now that the golden suds caught my eye, I looked closer. I had to laugh—more superlatives and blatant hyperbole were crowded onto this little bottle of bubbles than a Barnum & Bailey circus poster.

photo

“Advanced,” “NEW,” “Total Repair,” “EXTREME,” “Emergency,” “Recovery,” “RAPID FIBER RENEWAL” (whatever that is)…and on and on. It’s as if the company’s advertising guys looked up every glowing adjective in the dictionary and simply pasted them all on the bottle. I snickered again, but then I realized, hey, it worked. It’s in my shower, ain’t it?

 

I pointed out all the grandiose gobbledygook to my wife when I exited the reading room and asked her if it was indeed the best haircare product she’d ever used. “Eh,” she said with a shrug. “It’s not that great.”

 

Ah, yes. This revelation got me pondering all the little cons and exaggerations and out-and-out flimflammery that we deal with on a daily basis. I believe we first got the idea that the scam was on as we moved from adolescence into young adulthood. This was about the time we witnessed the gradual, ever-so-subtle phenomenon known as the incredible shrinking product. Remember? Food staples such as hamburgers and candy bars slowly lost their heft over time, almost like magic.

 

gadzooksThe Big Macs and Hersheys of our youth didn’t merely appear larger back then because we were tykes; they’ve been carefully trimmed over the years. Picture your Hershey bar on a fulcrum, like a teeter-totter of corporate trickery; price goes up, product size goes down. Eventually, I suppose we’ll be shelling out $19.99 for a chocolate nibble the size of an unwell raisin. In that vein, corporate candy minds have already given us the “fun size” bar. Fun size. That’s marketing speak for “you pay us regular-size price, and we’ll give you tiny crumbs in a colorful, exciting package. Yay! Fun!”

 

The Mars Company did some more snipping just recently, shaving the size of its Snickers and Mars bars—merely for health reasons, mind you. “Having taken product reformulation as far as we can for now without compromising the great taste,” a company spokeslizard said, “we have reduced the portion size of Mars and Snickers to bring down the calories.” Right.

 

The soft drink guys did it, too, long ago—under the guise of moving to the metric system. If you’re old enough to recall, family-size cokes once came in one-gallon containers. Touting their shift to the sleek three-liter size bottle as a consumer-friendly move to a more efficient, easier-to-tote container—at the same price!—the cola industry failed to mention that customers were now getting precisely .793 of a gallon of coke for the gallon price. But what’s .207 of a gallon between friends?

 

It isn’t just at the grocery store, though. The scam is everywhere. Corporate lizards abound. If you don’t pay close attention to your wireless service bill, for example, you’ve probably been crammed. We were crammed recently, but thank goodness the wife caught it before it went on too long. In fact, T-Mobile just got slammed by the Federal Trade Commission for cramming. Sounds physically painful, I know, but cramming hits you only in the pocketbook. It’s the practice of stuffing hidden fees into your bill for services you didn’t request—hence the ugly terminology. It’s often difficult to spot the hidden fees because the wireless companies will not itemize them; rather, they’ll show up as “Use Charges” or some other ridiculous, nebulous category.

 

The list goes on. Premium gas, college textbooks, bottled water, anything and everything that movie popcorn manshows up on your hospital bill, automotive cabin air filters, shipping and handling (what the hell is handling, anyway?), hotel taxes, cable activation fees, time shares, movie snacks. It’s a mine field out there, people. It’s a dirty, slimy mine field full of lizards, to mix a metaphor or three.

 

I think I need another shower. Hey, this shampoo looks good…

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Dead Cars Are Today’s Coalmine Canaries

9 Sep

by Roger White

 

You see them more and more these days: dead cars by the side of the road. Sure, the cops and the towing companies attempt due diligence, but they can’t keep up now. There are just too many croaked clunkers all over our highways and byways. I sat and thought about it the other day; you know what the proliferation of all of these deceased vehicles means, don’t you? That’s right, we’re all poor now. Well, 98.8 percent of us.

 he dead

It’s just like the canaries in the coalmine. Miners in our grandpappies’ day used canaries (those brave little birds) to make sure the air was breathable in their unbelievably dangerous underground offices. If Tweety Pie stopped singing and was suddenly on his back with his widdle feet in the air, it was time to haul out of there—the air had turned bad. Well, all those roadside stalled Chevys, puffing smoke with their widdle tires in the air—they’re today’s coalmine canaries. It ain’t good, folks. The air has turned bad.

 

The simple reason for this phenomenon is that our economy is barely breathing. There’s no more economic oxygen. Prices for staples such as groceries and gas are unacceptably high; cost for basic medical care is astronomical—and the whole system of for-profit care is at the very least misguided (and at worst, utterly evil); wages are stagnant; and jobs are about as scarce as an untattooed NBA player. Add to this the fact that the stock market today goes haywire anytime a terrorist sneezes in Yemen—and everyone’s retirement account is somehow inextricably tied to the market—and you have all the makings for a slippery slide right back into 1929, only perhaps worse.

he dead too 

Hence all the inert autos floundering near parkways hither and yon. It’s all about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, 21st-century style. People are barely keeping their heads above water. It’s all most of us can do to feed the family, pay the mortgage, and keep the electricity on. Ancillary things, such as regular car maintenance, swiftly fall by the wayside when the money is just not there. And so, kaplunk. The trusty old Ford keels over because its financially strapped owner couldn’t afford to change the timing belt—which, by the way, costs approximately a cool grand including time and labor and all the extra nebulous charges your friendly fix-it shop always manages to throw in.

 

Unfortunately, we can’t really hightail it out of this particular coalmine, can we? And from all appearances, it’s a damn deep mine. In many ways, it’s downright disgusting. There truly is no middle class anymore; there are the mega-uber-wealthy, comprising less than 2 percent of the population—and there are 250 million shades of poor in these United States. The average corporate CEO income today is about $4,615 per hour; minimum wage is $7.25, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

the trapMore and more of us are carrying four- and five-digit credit card balances and are using credit cards often to pay not for entertainment or the occasional luxury item but for groceries and monthly bills. In many cases, it’s unavoidable. My neighbor down the street recently posted on Facebook that her electricity bill for one month was more than $400—and her home is less than 1,900 square feet. AARP magazine noted that in 1963 a 49-ounce box of laundry detergent cost 69 cents; today, it costs $8.00. A movie ticket in 1963 was 86 cents; today, just under $10. Even adjusting for income, we’re much worse off now than we were 50 years ago. Boy, it’s getting tough to breathe in here.

 

Keep your eyes on the roadside, people. The air has surely turned bad.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.