Saturday, June 13, 2009


“The real minimum wage is zero.” -Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is an economic rock star. He’s got this gift for getting to the bottom line, so to speak, and is able to make something as potentially dry and boring as the study of the distribution of scarce resources with alternate uses into something I’d actually read and reread. If his book “Basic Economics” were required reading at the high school level, or even earlier, the world would be a better place.

We’ve faced budget crises around here; Sam has no money but insists on paying for his own food at Dairy Queen (“Dad, can I have some money? I want to pay for it myself!”), Kenny wants to buy Pokémon cards at Wal-Mart but is short $2. Michael Jr. wants an iTouch but has no job to support such dreams. Sierra thinks of emptying her bank account for a digital camera she doesn’t have to share with me but can’t reconcile this with her love of telling the boys how much more money she’s saved than them.

For us grown folks the difficulties are more serious and center around questioning our continuing ability to pay for private school as well as every other mounting expense that comes with the decision to have children. It’s an area we can easily start off feeling confident about but lose our swagger as we see the negative effects of the economy all around us. It’s feels unreal; we live in an area that’s second best in the nation for job production and employment but we’re seeing businesses close all around us.

So, belts are being tightened and budgets drawn up. We’re saying “No” more often and making do where we can. I don’t know if the current state of the economy will touch us directly but the idea of living beneath our means is becoming more and more attractive.

Last night on "20/20" there was an interview with a man running a business from the recesses of his mother’s basement. He’s put together a magazine called “Found” and it highlights his collection of absurd, random bits of humanity in the form of pieces of paper he’s either found or others have found and sent to him. One of his favorites is a typed up budget he found one day:

Rent 600
Cell phone 50
Telephone 50
Elec/Gas 45
Cable 60
Bus/Taxi 60
Food 500
Liquor 600 incl. bars ($20 per day)
Laundry 30
Crack 600
Attorney 250
Misc. 50
Savings 100

Total Income Needed $3,195

You've got to give this person credit; they're at least attempting to live within a budget and save for the future--looks like we all have some belt-tightening to do!
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  1. "Found" was on 20/20? That's crazy! I didn't know that that magazine OR that show were still around.

  2. Ha, Ha - That budget is too funny. With all those addictions, I am surprised that he has time to sit down and write a budget.


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