#17 Put on a Happy Face (1998)

All Rights Reserved © 1998 Thomas W. Day

The reoccurring theme I hear from Rat's Eye sufferers is "pretty hard on the MBA'ers aren't you, when are you going to say something happy?" Yep and probably in the next life.

I've misdirected my flames at the MBA'ers. I hit people when I aimed at institutions. Sorry about that. Honestly. There are lots and crowds of MBA'ers who deserve flaming, but oddly enough none of them are on this list. Wonder why? The MBA degree is just one idiot idea in a long history of educational institution idiot ideas. "Let's identify the least business-like organizations in the universe and have them teach kids how to manage businesses." Now there's a clever idea. Only academia would come up with something so . . . creative. Yeah, that's the word I wanted. If we are getting buzzed by aliens from superior planets, they must be laughing their asses off.

As a well-fed class of Americans, we're riding pretty high on our marginal economic success. Does the phrase "short-sighted" have any meaning these days? I guess there are reasons for hysterical laughter. Banks have to be loving our record credit card debt ratio. Some lawyers and accountants probably get a kick out of Depression quantity bankruptcies. The 40-some million people who are without health insurance must be somebody's wet dream. The fact that 20% of the children in the U.S. are living below the poverty line has to give sweatshop owners a lot of hope. "All that cheap labor and not a one of them old enough to bring a class-action suit." Those of us who are working and who do have health insurance have dimly accepted the golden handcuffs of middle class. "Turn in your aspirations and ethics at the door. This ain't no Sunday School." People are wealthier and more unhappy than anytime in modern psychological statistics-collected-in-malls history.

Bailing out of the economic reality zone, how about the happy world of politics? That's got to give us a lot of laughs. We have one side of the political isle, the Republicans, who are willing to destroy what little stability we have in the country to further their corporate welfare agenda. We have the other side, Democrats (in case you've been putting in so many hours at work you've forgotten what's what and who's who), who think eight years of Democratic leadership has kick-started the Great Society and the welfare state.

I worked for a company, only a few years ago, whose dimbulb executives insisted on "happy talk" at all meetings and public activities. "Whoopee! We're going broke and we only killed two patients this week." It doesn't take a crabby old man to figure out what motivates that kind of attitude. Ever hear of "golden parachutes?" The happier the working squids can be made to appear, the easier it is for the execs to con zombie investors into writing big "so long, it's been good to know you" checks. The hills and Aspen's mountains are alive with wealthy, retired execs who escaped just before the walls collapsed on the businesses they were supposed to be managing. Seven-eleven's are staffed with the people they used to mismanage.

The thing about the economy is that it seems to work independently of what is going on inside the economy. We do smart things, it crashes. We do dumb things, it booms. We do smart or dumb things, it does whatever the hell it's going to do, regardless. Bill Goodman said, of the entertainment industry, "Nobody knows anything." I say of the whole freaking world, "Nobody knows anything."

We're not smarter than the Japanese. That's not why their economy is crashing and ours is booming. It's just our time in the Midwestern weather pattern of world economics. We're still spending our kids future into oblivion. The national debt isn't shrinking, its growth rate has just slightly slowed. Social Security is still going down the tubes, and will be tubed about the time more of us than ever will be depending on it for our daily dose of dog food.

I'd love to spew happy talk. Honest. It's just that nobody's paying me to write happy talk, I'm as much a prostitute as anyone. So I write what I see until some of you start coughing up the big bucks.

April 1998

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