Having missed out on the great opportunities to make money without working for it during the 1990’s, I’ve decided to get in on the ground floor of the next big economic, er, bubble. Yes, sir: Who cares about mixed metaphors when there’s money to be made simply by being ruthless, cold-blooded and opportunistic?
I saw an ad on television the other day in which a prominent investment house apparently based in Gibraltar (a fine tax haven, no doubt) offered soothing counsel in these troubled times. A trustworthy-looking fellow appeared on-screen and talked about how we’re in a wartime economy and back to big deficits in Washington. I figured this was bad news, but that shows you how much I know about making money. Our hero said that the war and deficits would provide great new opportunities to make unearned money. The key was information, and this firm had it.
The thought of making great profits from the war economy and spiraling government deficits had great appeal, so I called my personal financial-investment counselor at the firm of Dewey, Cheatum & Howe.
“I want to make money from the wartime economy and out-of-control deficits,” I told him. “I want to find a way to make money from the misery of others.”
“Yeah, yeah, you and Bechtel,” came the friendly reply. “I’ve got something better. I’ve got the next big thing.”
This was exciting news. Visions of what the next big thing might be danced through my head, and I uttered them aloud: “A car that can get 100 miles per gallon? A new American manufacturer that refuses to farm out jobs to low-wage workers in Third World countries? A hand-held computer for the Parking Violations Bureau?” The possibilities seemed endless.
My friend at Dewey, Cheatum & Howe replied with a snort.
“Dream on,” he said. “But I have two words for you: moving vans.”
I waited for the details that surely must follow-as in, say, moving vans that run on solar power. But no, there was nothing more than those two words: moving vans.
“Moving companies are hot right now,” my friend said. “That’s where you want to be. It’s a growth industry.”
It turns out the hard-working researchers and analysts at Dewey, Cheatum & Howe have concluded that New Yorkers by the thousands will soon require the services of moving companies, and that these companies will have to order new equipment and hire new people to keep up with the demand. “We’re talking double-digit growth in the next quarter,” my friend assured me.
The ways and wiles of economic forecasts are a mystery to me, so I asked my friend where he got his information. Obscure publications from the Federal Reserve? Data from an industry source? Something he read on his Bloomberg?
“Nah,” he said. “It was in the Post. Almost every day, as a matter of fact.”
Astonished, I flipped through some back issues of the paper. Sure enough, there were columns filled with predictions that New Yorkers will soon be loading up moving vans and heading for friendlier states rather than pay higher taxes. According to commentators with impressive-sounding credentials, this was the fault of scheming lawmakers who can’t wait to take more money from hard-working New Yorkers in order to fund nefarious plots like health care and mass transit and public education. And once these schemers fool Governor Pataki into a tax hike, well, the city’s streets will be silent save for the grunts and groans of movers struggling with grand pianos and the like.
Yes, moving vans certainly seemed like the next big thing-well, moving vans and the new model of the Hummer, which will come with a personal anti-personnel targeting device, for those motorists whose off-road adventures are really exciting.
As I prepared to write a check for Dewey, Cheatum & Howe’s mutual fund specializing in aggressive new moving companies, I asked my friend where he thought all these future ex–New Yorkers would be heading.
“Don’t you read the papers?” he said. “Anywhere but New York. They’re going to Jersey. They’re going to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania-especially the rich. It says right here in the paper that the rich are very mobile. They can live anywhere, so you better not raise their taxes.”
But everybody’s talking about raising taxes, I said. The deficit in Connecticut is nearly $2 billion. Same in Massachusetts. It’s even higher in New Jersey. State governments have a combined $80 billion deficit, and they can’t just borrow money like they do in Washington, I said. Governors around the country say they need new revenues. Taxes are going up everywhere.
My friend snorted again. “Wrong, you sniveling, tax-loving, freedom-hating, CNN-watching pinko,” he said. “There is no deficit in Wyoming.”
See you in Cheyenne.