Friday, March 16, 2012

We'll All be MILLIONAIRES!

   The other night, I was watching "Wheel of Fortune" with my wife. One puzzle was "Proper Name" - The answer was: "Billionaire Bill Gates". The contestant said: "Millionaire Bill Gates" and was wrong. She lost. It got me to thinking, which is a rare thing these days...

   I remember back when I was in my senior year of High School and contemplating going out into the world and becoming a "Working Man".

   I began asking my parents about the cost of living. You know, what does it cost for an apartment, car, gas, rent, food, electricity etc.? This was back in 1967 and things were much cheaper then.

   A one bedroom apartment back then was around $50 to $75 a month with utilities included depending on the neighborhood. A really nice furnished apartment might run as high as $80 per month.

   Gasoline was running about 18 to 20 cents a gallon. You could drive a car for a week on $3 to $5 (or less). My little motorcycle would run for a month on $2 worth of gas. (bliss!).

   Service stations, (where they would fill your tank, air up your tires, wash the windows and check the oil and radiator levels) would in addition to all of the services mentioned give you trading stamps.

   What? You don't know what trading stamps are? The two biggest were S&H Green Stamps and Blue Chip Stamps. They would give one stamp for each dime of your purchase. To increase sales, some stations would offer as many as 10-X stamps for a fill-up. that's 10 stamps per 10 cents of your purchase! (A penny apiece!)

   So what? you say... Well I'll tell you what!...You'd take the stamps and stick them in the collector books and then redeem the stamps for merchandise at the redemption centers or by mail through their catalogs. A sleeping bag would be, say... 4 books and perhaps a toaster would be 6 books. A great way to furnish your new apartment! Good stuff!

   Ground beef was 20 cents a pound and you could go to McDonalds and get a hamburger, an order of french fries and a soda for less than a dollar.

   I remember a little "Mom and Pop" hamburger stand near our home that made the best burgers in town. A double patty burger with thick slices of onion and tomato for 45 cents! They apologized to me once for having to raise their price to 50 cents because their costs went up for tomatoes.

   After all my research was done I determined that if I could find a job where I could bring home $200 a month... why, I could live like a king!

   At the time I was working part-time at a drive-in theater in the concession stand and as a ticket-taker. I brought home about $30 dollars a week so I had to move up to a better paying job. 

   The times being what they were - the '60s during Viet Nam and with the military draft still in place - I enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. I wanted to follow my Father's example and join the Marines but he told me that it wasn't fun being a target and that there was less chance of me being shot at in the Coast Guard so I conceded and joined up. At one point during my enlistment I had to have my own apartment. I lived in a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco, just off Taraval Ave. and 50 yards from the Pacific Ocean beach and paid $87.50 per month. Try finding that price today!

   Four years later just before my enlistment was up, I was making over $400 a month with few expenses other than my car payment (1969 Volkswagen Bug) and my own entertainment.

   Fast forward to the present day. Gasoline in my town just hit $4.09 a gallon. It costs about $60 to fill the tank on my car, assuming that I fill it up before it goes dry.

   To go to the local cafe and buy a cheeseburger, fries and soft drinks for two (for my lovely wife and I) costs me between $25 and $30  dollars. Easily a week's wages back in 1967.

   Today's cost of living is breathtaking when compared to that of the 60s. If we knew then what we know now... we'd have probably just stayed in school longer to become plumbers or landscape gardeners or proctologists.

   I foresee that with a steady rate of inflation, in the next 10 years we'll all be millionaires... of course a Big Mac will cost $4,000 and an order of fries will be $2,500. A tank of gas will put us back $10,000 or more!

   Back during the late 70s and early 80s in Argentina inflation was so bad that they suspended the use of bank checks and credit cards. It was a cash only economy. A friend of mine told me that to go to dinner in a nice restaurant it was truly necessary to carry a briefcase or duffel bag packed with cash. Tipping was optional.

   The Geezer is on Social Security and even now has to watch his budget just to get by. So save your money for a rainy day. You might be able to use it as insulation in your walls or to stuff in your worn-out shoes because you won't be able to afford a new pair...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

USA! USA! USA! - Racist?

   Yesterday I read a news blurb on the Internet about a high school basketball game in Texas.

   First of all, I was surprised that Texans actually play basketball. I was given to believe that football was the Texas State Sport.

Anyway...

  The news story wasn't so much about the game itself but what happened after the game.

   It seems that one school is comprised of predominantly White students and the other school is comprised of predominantly Latino students. Both schools are entirely within the state of Texas, USA.

   The White school's team won the game. After the game, the students from the winning team began to shout the familiar chant: USA! USA! USA!

   This in and of itself is not normally a problem. It seems that the losing school's (Latino) students and administrators took exception to the chant calling it "Racist". They demanded an apology from the winning school and from the school district itself. And they got it. They got it.

   Are not both schools US schools? Are not the students of both schools US residents? (well, maybe not.)

   I don't see anything racist with the chant. If the Latino (american) school had won and had begun to chant Viva' la Mexico! would the white students taken exception? Probably not.

   If this crap (yes, Crap) continues, we won't have to worry about foreign terrorists attacking this country, we will be attacking one another!

   In the recent past we have seen Mexican-Americans tear down the American Flag and replace it with the Flag of Mexico. We see these folks defacing the flag, yet we do nothing and let them go on doing what they do.

   This is okay with me. Our constitution allows us to freely express ourselves in writing and in voice and actions. To contain such behaviour would be to deny these rights. I see the students of the winning high school as merely expressing themselves as the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States allow.

   Regardless of their intentions, the fact remains that they were expressing themselves and within their rights to do so. The ACLU should look into this case.

As a Geezer I say: USA! USA! USA!