Selling the Canoe

Dear Mr. President;

Last month, I was in my friend’s car when I looked out the window and saw one of those whacky billboards that display the real-time national deficit. Watching that foolish thing tick away at a rate of $34,000 per second is like watching an oncoming tornado: you’re fucked if you don’t run and find shelter, but you just can’t stop staring at the damned thing.

I can’t even imagine being responsible for that much debt. Seriously, how do you sleep: Advil PM? Anyhow, I wanted to write and tell you that I know how you feel. I’ve been looking into ways to reduce my own deficit and it’s shitloads harder than it sounds. And that’s just with me and my husband and two silly bassets: you’ve got way more than that many folks second guessing and putting in their two cents about whatever you do. Have you looked on the Internet, by the way? There’s some pretty good advice out there on debt reduction, so long as you avoid WikiAnswers and Yahoo and those clairvoyant financial ‘specialists…’

Now, I know you’re probably thinking Susie, there’s a goodly difference between your debt (about $3500) and the country’s (about 3,770,000,000 times more, according to that billboard). But honestly, Barry (by the way, do you mind if I call you Barry?), all those Internet articles (and I’ve read at least five so far) agree that, no matter how much you’re in the hole, the process is always the same: first you cut costs, then you look for ways to raise more income, then you pay off the debt.

In my situation, the first step (cutting costs), came down to things like limiting our nights out, canceling the pay channels and confiscating Rick’s Home Depot card.  But I’m thinking you’ll need to go a bit further. And since you have lots of people there making suggestions I won’t bother taking up your valuable time with any tips on this process.

I do, however, think you might benefit lots from the suggestions I’ve been picking up on raising more income (and I don’t mean increasing taxes, by the way). Here are a few of the really good tips I found, so you won’t have to bother with all that reading yourself (I know how busy you are with the kids and your job and all that dress shopping at Target…).

Sell Your Excess.  I thought this was a great idea, since I have closets full of things that I really don’t have much need for these days.  You know, extra blankets, that old crock pot, Aunt Gertie’s truss… it all made for a great yard sale that brought in some good money.  I’ll bet if you look around you’ll also find piles of stuff that’s no longer needed – like those 450 tanks being transported back from Iraq.  I have no idea what the Blue Book value is, but can you say eBay? KahCHING!

Look for Extra Income Potential.  Last year, Rick and I decided we’d save lots on gas, maintenance and insurance expenses if we got ourselves down to only one vehicle.  I was wondering if you’d considered this option. Those airplanes you use to get around… do you really need two?  I mean, at a burn rate of $187,000 per hour for maintenance, staff and parking, you should consider renting one out. Wedding and prom season is fast approaching and I’m willing to bet that a few Long Island Deb-Bitches from Hell would happily pop a few hundred grand or more to have their dream event on Air Force One. If you book four or five of these gigs over the course of any given weekend, we’re talking some seriously good income.

Take Advantage of Large-Ticket Items.  Last month, Rick and I sold that canoe we never use and it helped pay off the dentist bill. Those articles sure were right: big-ticket items that are just hanging around really can help reduce your debt! Now, don’t panic: I’m not suggesting that you dash on down to the local pawn shop with George and Martha’s portraits. But work with me on this for a minute: how do you feel about letting go of some real estate? We’ve got plenty, and it may be just the thing to fill a bit of that gaping hole in the budget.  I’m thinking… Hawaii. It’s a kickass location and when you average it out to $40,000 per acre, that will get you $279,833,600,000 (actually, a bit less when you subtract the realtor fees). I know, you’re probably thinking that you should just hang onto it until the market bounces back and sell it for more.  But all the articles say you really can’t afford to wait. I’ll bet Taiwan would be very interested: you should give them a call.

Ask for Help.  Last year, my friend Arelene got into a bit of a pickle when she lost her job… it looked like she might even lose her car because she couldn’t make the payments.  So she asked a few friends for some help and we all stepped in.  She did it by adding one of those DONATE buttons to her blog… you know, the ones they give you when you open a PayPal account.  Have you thought about putting one of these on the White House page? You really never know who could stumble on that site and decide to help out… the fees are pretty reasonable and it won’t cost a thing to set up – and you can link the button to any personal or business checking account.  I can help with this if you want to see how it’s done…

I know that, helpful as these tips are, they won’t take care of all the national debt. But they’ll sure put a huge dent in it! And if the rest of the country doesn’t mind that thing about Hawaii (I mean, come on, they can still visit and all), you may want to consider Texas.  It’s bigger, so you’ll make tons more money.

Well, there it is.  Sure hope all of this helps.  If I can do anything else (like the code for that PayPal button thing), give me a call.  I’m in the book.

Kiss the kiddies, Susie.

P.S. Not for nothing, but you may want to make sure things don’t get any worse while you’re fixing all of this. If I were you, I’d pass a law or something that makes it illegal for Congress to vote in any budget without first proving they can raise the necessary money to cover it. And if, after doing this, they’re any more than 5% short at the end of the fiscal year, tell them it comes straight out of their damned collective salaries.  That should help…