Sky is Falling
Everyone knows the story of Chicken Little. It’s a folktale about a chicken running around predicting the world is coming to an end. Versions of the tale go back more than 25 centuries. The make-believe story finally became reality. At the recently held Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce annual economic forecast luncheon, the attendees ate Chicken Little, and with mouths full, predicted a mild recession. Chicken Little insisted being eaten made it feel more like a depression. Sadly, his story came true.
I wasn’t invited to this event because I’m not good with money. Only experts got an invite. They talked about things way above my head. They gushed on about cash flow, lending, interest rates, NAFTA, disposable income and rent control. When it came time to pick up the check, everyone claimed to have left wallets at home. Balboa Resort management hosting the event demanded payment. Event organizers assured the Balboa Resort that the check was in the mail. The U.S. Postal System would not confirm or deny handling the check because of their-own cash flow problems.
Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I heard stories about the Depression. My mother told us kids about being shuffled back and forth among relatives, who had jobs to feed them. She moved 12 times in her youth. I was deathly afraid this was going to happen again. Every morning I asked, “How’s Uncle Sam doing?” “Worse than us,” mother answered. I’d say, “Too bad,” when secretly I was delighted at Sam’s economic troubles. It meant I’d be sleeping in my bed for another day.
Then one morning, mother announced, “Sam is coming to stay with us for awhile. Mark, you’ll give up your bed and bunk with your brother.” Now, my sky was falling. Nobody should be made to sleep with my brother. As a toddler, he exclaimed one night from across the bedroom that he was going to pee in my ear. I said, “Just go to sleep.” Rustle. Rustle. It was a perfect prediction. I was appalled and screamed bloody hell. Mother scolded my brother and he lost his allowance for a month. He learned the importance of cash flow, when you piss away everything you got.
My brother was unfazed by his economic downturn. For the next month, he borrowed most of my allowance. I ended up with little disposable income and an ear infection to boot. To this day, I’m susceptible to ear problems when it comes to money talk. Everybody sounds like experts and I get tempted to take their financial advice. But then I remember the night my brother peed in my ear. I charged him 10 percent compounded interest that he had to pay for the next two years. He learned a valuable lesson in life. Keep it in your pants. Your wallet, too.
Crantz tells the Indy that the value of money is relative, as in, how many relatives do you have to support?