- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 8, 2005

Bartender. Another round for the whole house, and put it on my tab. And make sure you take care of those two gals, Katrina and Rita, who just came in with all their friends. Get them some menus, too. What’s a few hundred billion, here and there? It’s on me. For that matter, don’t forget those people who keep coming in every night through the backdoor by the thousands. I want to make sure they are all taken care of too.

You’ve been here at the Fools’ Paradise Lounge now for more than 20 years, haven’t you? That’s what I thought. That’s when I started really running up the tab here, and I have really given you a lot of business. But nothing like what I’ve been doing recently. I’m keeping you guys in business, even if I do have to borrow a couple billion a day from the Chinese to keep up the pace. God help you if they start backing off.

When my wife saw that last statement your boss gave me, she couldn’t believe the tab was up near $5 trillion and growing, and she keeps telling me we can’t keep this up on my income. She says I never say “no” to anyone. I’ve been running the tab up for 45 of the last 50 years. She’s just a worrier.

I figured I’ll run up the tab at least a half-trillion a year for the next six years, I’ve told everyone that, and have you heard anyone in here say they care? I sure don’t. I’m feeling no pain, and you don’t see anyone in here complaining about my picking up the tab. In fact, I think I’m ready for a double.

You’ve always been a good listener. I told you about how the old lady complained about me spending the trillions that are supposed to be in our retirement fund. Claims we’re $12 trillion short. But she finally gave up on that kick and agreed to drop that subject. Now she’s griping about how we have some $60 trillion of expected medical costs that we have no way to pay! She is just never happy. It’s always something.

You’d think she doesn’t care about all of Katrina’s and Rita’s friends. But she doesn’t like anyone in Washington, either. Says they all spend like drunken sailors, on something she calls “earmarks” or “bridges to nowhere,” whatever those are. I don’t know why I stay married to someone so negative.

I don’t know what she would do without those credit cards. The value of our house ran way up, so I refinanced it and she spent all that on stuff she wanted, so that ought to shut her up at least for a while. After all, that keeps the economy going.

You know me well enough by now, I’ll tell you the truth. You keep asking, so I’ll tell you. Sure, there’s no way I can ever pay off this tab, but that’s what my kids are for. We were the Greatest Generation, and we are turning things over to them, so they deserve to pay for what we did for them. Fill me up again, here, and — yeah, you’re right — put it on the kids’ tab.

Hey, everybody. Let’s drink to that. Here’s to our kids. Lots of luck.

BERT MCLACHLAN

Author, “Saving Social Security (from Congress)”


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