I was probably just out of diapers when I first heard the phrase, “We’re going to Helena Handcart.” In my unblemished state, I thought okay. We have a new friend and Mom and Dad are going to take me to see her. They had a real belly laugh when I asked “When are we leaving to visit our new Aunt Helena. For the next few weeks I was treated like the family comedian. It was actually a good time for a little break from the darkness of the depression. Anything to give us a little comic relief. Since then, I guess I’ve heard that old phrase ten thousand times, hyperbole being a sub-gift within my comedic talent.
But jocularity aside, are we really going to Helena Handcart anytime in the near future? I know that, in many ways, we seem to be living examples of insanity, the way we keep doing the same old dumb things and expecting different outcomes. In our country, generosity is a virtue that approaches those of thrift and hard work. We actually give money to “needy” families, with a major criterion being the number of children they have. This benign attempt at generosity has become an incentive for many families to keep on producing children and collecting bigger welfare checks. Food stamps are likewise often used to buy luxury items, which are really good at helping the recipient gain weight and develop smoking habits, but do little to teach very much about nutrition and the evils of tobacco.
But those examples are peanuts, compared to the bonanza the government has given to the agriculture business in the form of the “ethanol” boom. This one wins the Helena Handcart award, hands down. Ethanol, made from corn and used as a gasoline additive, is sold with the promise to yield better gas mileage in our personal vehicles. Ask anyone who has used it, and they’ll tell you a completely different story. It actually decreases mileage, and some cars, like hybrids, can’t even use the premium stuff. But the government keeps planting this birds’ nest in farmers’ pockets, because they’ve paid them a special incentive bonus, which is assure them of the highest market prices for their corn. The road to Helena is paved with this particular good intention. While the corn is going into gasoline supplies, the price for table varieties has soared, making your tortillas and corn flakes cost more. Long term result: the very people who need a price break are being told to take a ride in Helens’s Handcart.
I’m not sure we’ll ever solve the most urgent and critical of our Helenish plunge into fiscal oblivion. Not to point fingers at any single politician or party – they’re all more or less equally culpable. It’s a rush to see who can get the most cookies out of the jar before it goes empty, and we just keep refilling it with cookies we’ve borrowed until the cookie baker gets wise and starts raising the prices of her product. What’s a clever baker to do anyway, when the laws of supply and demand actually encourage it? But our appetite for free cookies continues unabated, while their relative scarcity keeps driving the prices upward. And when we have to borrow more money to support our cookie-driven appetites, we just keep writing checks to the baker and promising to pay a premium for our insatiable cravings. While the price of cookies is still relatively affordable, we’re building up a huge debt to the bakers, which of course we’ve been paying by issuing ever more government securities.
And so we’ve come to a place where there’s literally no more room in the Handcart. Helena is waiting with open arms for
to us to make the required deliveries. The handcart is overloaded, but the cargo bay doesn’t seem to actually have anything in it. By the way, the government is now working on a new and improved version of the old Handcart. It can take us from prosperity to bankruptcy in the blink of an eye. Poor old Helena may yet be retired in favor of the new Devil’s Doomsday Defaulter.
George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt