2009-02-19 / Sam Bari

Where did all the money go?

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

We are all aware that the economy is on shaky ground. The apparent solution to this seemingly unsolvable problem appears to be to talk it to death.

If enough people in high places pontificate on the matter, and the media writes, televises, and broadcasts nothing other than bad economic news, the matter will become so nauseatingly boring that nobody will pay attention any more. Bad economic news will be as much of a non-issue as Paris Hilton's TV show.

I think they should try it. That's what happens to all the other hot topics. A few months ago, the high cost of fuel was the subject of every newscast and headline. Eventually, people got so tired of hearing about it that they stopped paying attention. As soon as the viewer ratings and newspaper sales went down, so did the gas prices. It was an amazing thing to watch.

As I understand it, the economic downturn is not indigenous to the United States. No sir, it is a global problem. According to the so-called experts, self-proclaimed and otherwise, the entire world is broke. Nobody has any money. The flow of revenue has literally stopped. Hmmm . . . That is certainly enough to cause concern.

When I stop to think about it, if that is true, it is one of the more phenomenal magic tricks in recorded history. If nobody claims to have any money, then where did it all go? I do not believe the astronauts are carting it off into space. Aliens aren't swooping down in flying saucers and picking it up by the space ship load.

I strongly suspect that the money is still here on earth. Where else could it be? I also do not believe it is very well hidden. Take a look around you. What do you see?

Businesses everywhere are having "Gigantic" sales to generate enough cash to pay their bills and employees. Car dealers are advertising ads that say, "Below factory invoices. Buy now! Unprecedented discounts! Do not miss out!" The same sales pitches are coming from furniture stores, appliance dealers, department stores and supermarkets.

Even big manufacturers are feeling the pinch. Boeing Aircraft has laid people off. So has Cessna and some of the other small airplane manufacturers. Businesses everywhere appear to be doing all they can just to keep their doors open.

However, that is not entirely true, not when you look closely at all of the business community. A number of retailers are sitting quietly in the background not advertising or making their presence too obvious. You might say they are doing all they can to be invisible.

I'm talking about automobile dealers like Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Ferrari and even Mercedes Benz. You don't see prices slashed on any cars costing more than, let's say, $60,000. Those dealers seem to be doing just fine.

You also don't hear of Lockheed Martin, McDonnell-Douglas, or any of the other manufacturers of military aircraft and equipment crying poor. And you certainly don't see Lear Jet or Gulfstream offering deep discounts. Their sales are up. How else could bank executives get to Washington to pick up their bailout checks?

Could it be that the haves are enjoying affluence while the rest of us are stuck with the effluence? Say it isn't so. Is the gap between the As and the Es widening? Could be, don'tcha think? This is disturbing.

Even the affluent have noticed that the failing economy has influenced their lives. A man who built a McMansion was heard saying that the economy has really affected the contractors and the way they do business. "They actually finished my house on time, and came in on budget. I was amazed," he said.

When the only work is at the high end of the socio-economic scale, the competition gets stiff. Even builders will bend their rules and honor their contracts. And again, the As get the advantage.

In a failing economy, those who can "show me the money" become a lot more obvious, especially to those who live in a system they can't understand.

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