Friday, July 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

You're getting $600 - what can you do with that? Not to be ungrateful or anything, but maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn't pay down every bill every month. The short-term quick fix kinda stuff sounds good, and it may even feel good that first month when you get that check, and then you go out and you buy a pair of earrings.

--Michelle Obama on the stimulus package, quoted in The Washington Times

Getting yours truly out of blogging semiretirement has been taking increasingly powerful irritants lately; reading the above got me moving pretty quickly. I'd heard the price-of-arugula story, but I think this remark tops that. I about dropped my teeth when I read it--and they're the original set.

Before we proceed, let's take a deep breath, count to ten, and evaluate the statement. Mrs. Obama didn't say outright that she buys $600 earrings, and she didn't say that the amorphous "you" to whom she referred spent the full $600 on earrings. Still, that does seem to be what she intended to convey. I read somewhere that Obama is a regular gal who shops at Target. Based on her remark, I'd say her Tarzhay is a bit more upscale than my Tarzhay.

I could carry on about the out-of-touchness of people who not only buy $600 earrings, but seem to assume that everybody else does, too. As the rest of the blogosphere will likely have covered that angle to death by the time I post this, however, I might as well leave it to them. Instead, I'd like to offer a list of items that Jane, LaTonya, or Conchita Sixpack might do with $600 other than buy earrings. I'm basing this list on actual recent Minor Premise expenses, with which I, as Keeper of the Checkbook, am thoroughly acquainted. Thus, it's a genuine, real-life middle-class expense list reflecting the expenses of real-life, middle-class people who have more important places to put $600 than into fripperies. If anyone in the position to forward this list to Mrs. O should happen upon this blog, please feel free. She might want to keep it for future speechifying.

CMinor's List of Things Other Than Earrings For Which Your $600 Stimulus Check Will Pay:

* Slightly over 3/4 of a mortgage payment.
* A couple of car payments, as long as you didn't sink a ridiculous amount of credit into a depreciable asset .
* A month's worth of utility bills (power, electric, water, phone, and internet) with a little left over. Realize that it's July, and the air conditioning is taking its toll. Around here, September to April, you could get 1 1/2 to 2 months of utility bills paid with $600.
* A month's worth of groceries for a family of 4 without teenagers.
* Cafeteria fees for 1/3 semester for college student.
* Books for semester for college student, probably with money left over unless the student is in a science, health or tech field.
* One summer class at local four-year or technical college, with money left over at the tech coll.
* Four weeks of summer camp for a kid or kids courtesy of a number of excellent organizations (including but not limited to the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Y, the local college conservatory program, and the local sailing club.)
* Full membership for a couple with kids for eight months at the Y (or one year of individual membership for one adult or teen or four kids, with money left over.)
* Curriculum materials for a year for one homeschooled kid, if you're a do-it-yourselfer who shops around. Or 1/4 to 3/4 of a one-year curriculum package, depending on program and age level.
* A modest car repair.
* Four new tires, installed, with alignment and road hazard coverage. $25 left over.
* (Though we haven't used this ourselves, I figured it bore mentioning.) Fifteen weeks of afterschool care or seven to eight weeks of preschool day care for one child (based on local Y's rates.)
* Replacement for broken sofa.

Earrings, my eye.

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Blogger mrsdarwin said...

Jim Geraghty over at the Campaign Spot begged, "Dear Obama campaign, please make sure this is the theme of her prime-time address at the convention."

We're fortunate enough that our stimulus check went to funding home improvement (rather than home repair; Lowe's should be feeling stimulated), but geez, who looks at a $600 windfall and thinks, "New earrings!" Only people with a helluva lot of disposable income.

Good to see you writing again!

2:34 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

"...the theme of her prime-time address at the convention."

Well, that would be a Terayza Heinz Kerry moment to be sure. What I wonder is, isn't there anybody on the campaign staff over there who whacks candidates/spouses on the head after they've made such comments and reminds them that they're supposed to be the common people's party?

Repair or improvement, I'm sure Lowe's is happy either way.

10:59 PM  

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