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Bailout buck would easily stop at Pop

Tue., Aug. 11, 2009

My Pop, bless his soul, had the mind of a mob accountant when it came to dollars and cents.

Whenever I’d hit him up for movie money or an advance on my allowance, he would fix his beady eyes on me in a withering gaze.

Then he’d order his insolvent son to sit down upon the couch of inquisition.

Once I was uncomfortably seated, he would regale me with a lecture I call Poponomics 101.

The speech (I probably heard it a hundred times), would always open with his personal history:

How he grew up in the slums of Chicago after his mother lost her savings and the family home in the Great Depression; how he earned pennies caddying for rich golfers on the weekends; how he only had one shirt to wear to school …

If he caught me turning glassy-eyed, my pop would rap me on the side of the head with his knuckles and threaten to knock me into “the middle of next week.”

No big deal. Empty threats of violence were an acceptable learning tool when I was a kid.

Then Pop would tell me about the value of saving money and the folly of living beyond my means.

Confession time would come next. I’d have to give him an itemized accounting of what I had blown my money on and how that led to my current impoverished state.

He would invariably end with a pragmatic admonition:

“Douglas, you can’t buy champagne with a Kool-Aid bank account.”

This memory sprang to mind Monday morning when I read the headline sprawled across the top of our front page:

“Bailout funds hard to track.”

It seems our watchdogs are having difficulty remembering what happened to sizable chunks of last October’s $700 billion bailout loot.

I especially enjoyed this part of the story:

“… some members of Congress say that some oversight of bailout dollars has been so lacking that it’s essentially worthless.”

I can see losing a sock now and then. Yeah, I’ve misplaced my car keys.

But losing sight of billions in tax dollars?

That’s about as crazy as it gets.

Almost as insane is the lack of public outrage over the government’s financial mess.

But I think I know why. We’ve all become so used to our crooked leaders wasting money that we don’t give a rip where it goes anymore.

Just keep the cash for clunkers coming and we’ll all stay fat, dumb and happy.

The government appears to be operating the same way Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker ran their vast televangelism scam back in the 1980s.

Remember Jim and Tammy Faye? Idiots would send them money by the gunnysacks. And Jim and Tammy Faye would use it to buy any foolish extravagance that popped into their devilish minds.

Sounds a lot like Congress, huh?

Too bad my old man’s dead and gone. We could use a Poponomics wake-up call right now.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@

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