The budget crisis

The Andersons

A Budget Crisis Allegory

By Eric Gemelli When the Andersons were a young couple they had many lean years.  Mr. Anderson finished college and eventually advanced to upper management of the company for which he worked. His company was so well run that people would say of him, “The business of Anderson is business”. Mrs. Anderson grew accustomed to a soft life; she always badgered her husband for more trinkets, in shrewish tones, accusing him of not loving their kids. She said they were “essentials”. He observed what his wife thought was essential usually rotted their kid’s teeth, numbed their brain or made them lazy. He pointed out the most loving thing was to teach discipline and live well for generations rather than with excess for a short time. Mr. and Mrs. Andersons always had different ideas about how to spend money and raise the kids, like most couples, but they eventually came to an agreement and the result was good for everyone. Their friends called them “The A-team”, because they seemed to have the golden touch.The alternative is to live beyond their means by going into debt. Years ago the Andersons used to go to church together. One particular Sunday they heard a sermon about the sayings of King Solomon. Solomon, thought to be the wisest man ever, taught “The debtor is the servant of the lender”.  “That’s economics 101”, he whispered in his wife’s ear. Their success is what led to the demise of the family. Their divorce was avoidable, but also inevitable given Mrs. Smith’s (she changed back to her maiden name) unhealthy need for praise. She just couldn’t say “no” to her children or neighbors. Mr. Anderson now sees he was naïve to believe his former wife’s promises to get psychiatric help for her shopping addiction. He tries to keep his word and assumes others share his standards.  He gave his wife favorable terms in their separation, hoping she would reciprocate his good will. She didn’t. Instead, she carefully built a deceptive story and divorced her college sweetheart. With years of practiced charm, she convinced the court to saddle her husband with the debt she ran up. She pretended to work and used the kids as a tool to get sympathy. Mrs. Smith never intended to keep her promise to get help with her addiction. After all, “I’m just trying to help my family”, she rationalized. She doesn’t even think of her false statements as lies, since she feels her goals are noble. Today the kids are late for their appointment with the math tutor. For years their kids have been falling behind and are about to fail. Mr. Anderson cleared the date with his ex-wife; she agreed to have the kids dressed and ready to leave on time. After years of being harangued by his ex-wife he knows if he goes to the door and asks why the children aren’t ready to leave on time she’ll just find a way to blame him, so he sits, waiting in the car, offering an occasional frustrated “honk”, while the kids are inside gorging on honey-soaked “Coocoo Puffs”. Dad warned his ex-wife to set a curfew for the kids.  Dad planned and paid for a trip to the math tutor because the kids are so desperately behind in even basic math skills. Dad showed the kids how to set the alarm, so they could be up and ready.  But they dawdle. Mrs. Smith hates to look bad, so she recruits her neighbors to her side. This isn’t terribly hard since, to varying degrees, each has financially raped their ex-husbands. The neighbors, blinded by a steady stream of partial truths from Mrs. Smith, gossip about Mr. Anderson.   The neighbors all want to be thought of as nice people; they mean well, they just don’t understand the whole story.  Mrs. Smith accuses Mr. Anderson of not wanting their kids to have breakfast. She’s the master of irrelevant phrases that could fit on a bumper sticker: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. That’s true, but Mrs. Smith neglected to point out the kids are now Type-2 diabetics because of their constant diet of gooey sweet stuff. A recent trip to the doctor confirmed the Anderson children are dangerously close to becoming Type-1 diabetics, causing permanent harm and unlikely to return to health. She calls the doctors warnings of possible amputation of affected limbs as “sensational” and “scare tactics”. Besides, they just take their pill and everything seems fine. One of the neighbors, Mrs. Kravitz, is known for involving herself in everyone else’s business. As she ages she’s become a spindly version of her former self. The more she is ignored, the more insistently she shouts her opinions. Mrs. Kravitz confronted Mr. Anderson. She intended to ask a question, but merely stated, almost verbatim, Mrs. Smith’s accusation, “You don’t want your kids to eat the most important meal of the day!” Mr. Anderson is a numbers guy and almost blind to the nuances of persuasion or the power of public opinion. He once observed his former wife lies better than he tells the truth. He presumes everyone knows of the health problems the children have, caused by their sugary meals. Mrs. Smith didn’t intend to make her kids sick, but she constantly acquiesces to their unhealthy requests for “fun-foods”. Mr. Anderson, somewhat lamely, replies to Mrs. Kravitz with a proverb his dad taught him: “All manner of excess can be excused in the name of fun”. Mrs. Kravitz looks upon him with contempt, believing she just heard him imply breakfast is an unnecessary excess. He is pleased with himself, believing she is silenced by his irrefutable logic connecting the science of blood sugar diseases and sugary meals. Mrs. Kravitz marches home and immediately calls some neighbors claiming, “He practically told me he hates bees”.  The other neighbor, drawn in by the sensational nature of the story, wants to know, “What kind of person hates bees?!” “Well, he stood there and told me his kids didn’t need to put honey on their cereal, and everyone knows honey comes from bees.” “Yeah,” said the neighbor, “and honey is a healthy kind of sugar”, the other neighbor added, repeating something she heard in a TV commercial. Both are incensed over Mr. Anderson’s desire to get his kids to trade in their honey soaked “Coocoo Puffs” for healthier steal cut oats. Later that day Mrs. Smith invited all the neighbors over for some Kool-Aid while they rehashed the whole event. Mrs. Smith erroneously concluded, in bumper sticker fashion, “ we don’t really need math skills anymore, now that everyone has a calculator on their cell phone”. Copyright, 2013 About the author: Mr. Gemelli is the market forecaster who predicted the market crash tied to September 11th in May 2001, in his newspaper column. His column came out, not only at the high of 2001, but the high of the next 5 years. Gemelli has gone on the record in his radio show predicting another major market crash. He is the author of The Pattern of Life, How to make money in any market and recently spoke on the Success At Sea cruise.  More information is available at