These little piggies went to market

Economic indicators signal good news for the rich, but minimum-wage latte drinkers are advised to cut back on the caffeine.

Topics: U.S. Economy, Great Recession, Unemployment, Business,

New economic indicators suggest that the U.S. economy will continue sturdy expansion for the fortunate, relieved economists announced today.

Shares of irony surged 78 percent in response to FDA approval of the drug InOp. The patented hallucinogen, which contains the active ingredient “indifferent optimism,” is already being used to treat politicians who suffer from occasional awareness. However, it has not yet been tested on human beings. Sales hit a record high in the days following the death of former President Ronald Reagan.

Other new economic indicators reveal a similar trend away from facts as a viable market index. In a nationwide survey 5 out of 5 economists with job security, benefits and stock options reported being unconcerned that 80,000 Americans a month are still being put out of work.

“There are always layoffs,” said an unruffled Jess Fine, a senior business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “Jobs are being created and jobs are being destroyed every day. Just not my job.”

Among the jobs being created, says Fine, are self-employed lottery ticket investor, privatized civil servant at large, and vice president in charge of overseeing mail drop in the Bahamas.

Among the jobs being destroyed, says Fine, are midrange professions for “a bunch of people who live, um, out there somewhere.” Fine added that many of these people would soon be downsizing their homes and announcing discount sales of their pre-owned consumer goods, a move he says reflects Americans’ growing confidence that suicide is still the last resort.

Despite all the good news, Congress scrambled to put together several important emergency packages last week. Chief among these was $10 billion in aid to Accenture LLP, which has developed an apparently incurable resistance to paying a fair share of corporate taxes shortly after a long feeding session at the public trough. Aid workers for Accenture had previously boosted the company’s tax immune system by airlifting the headquarters to Bermuda, but say that “much, much more — and then some” will be required to keep the company healthy, wealthy and smug.

The new emergency package is expected to have widespread benefits for at least half a dozen members of the American public, say supporters, who included three lobbyists, two shareholders and a senior executive. Hiring one of the more aggressive outsourcers of American technology to track foreign visitors as a security measure just makes sense, say lobbyists, who admitted they couldn’t say why.

“You’d sort of have to be there sipping that third martini,” one explained.

Others cited good old-fashioned American sentiment as the reason for their support of the lucrative deal. “When you see a company that’s outsourcing business to the tune of $2 billion a year,” said one congressman, “you can’t help but be moved by its plight. Or whatever.”

  • Employers who have worked tirelessly to limit or curtail access to affordable health insurance report that the program is giving older workers and retirees a whole new lease on life. The lease is owned and operated by the Federation of HMO Cowboys for a Healthier Balance Sheet. By cutting off or severely reducing promised health insurance benefits, employers say they are inspiring their workers to take more risks and encouraging elderly, ailing retirees to stop sitting at home feeling sorry for themselves at a time when there is so much poorly remunerated work to be done.

  • The House of Representatives approved new tax credits for children of families that earn as much as $309,000 a year. Supporters argued that families who already enjoy cushy benefits from earlier tax cuts have developed a heightened sensitivity to discomfort that the poor have failed to take into account. Asked to respond to a Washington Post editorial that criticized the tax credit as “bad social policy, bad tax policy, and bad fiscal policy,” one congressman announced, “We wish to thank the Washington Post for recognizing that our actions are consistent with our family values.”

  • In a related story, Congress approved a manicured grass-roots movement to stamp out latte drinking among the nation’s working poor, whose complaints about the sudden price increase for dairy products and other basic foods are really beginning to grate on the nerves of people who think tossing back their hair or rolling their eyes counts as a searing cultural indictment.

    Authors looking for a way to manipulate people into buying their latest get-rich-quick books have agreed to help. Starting today, they will write books, go on talk shows and wheel out carts piled high with fake money to show how much “anyone” can save if they just kick the supposedly universal habit of drinking a bucket of latte a day — seven days a week, for 30 years, at 10 percent interest.

    The alleged latte drinkers, who were last spotted deciding whether to A) buy the 64-ounce box of powdered milk for $11.79 and go without the cornflakes, or to B) just get the smallest box for now and pay double the unit price, could not be immediately reached for comment, as they do not have cellphones, fax machines, access to the Internet or, in some cases, a fixed abode. But spokespersons for the better off were quick to point out that nobody really cares what they think anyway.

  • Finally, a spokesperson for the White House defended the $100,000 advance paid to the Pentagon for a last-minute project to build a platform with red carpet, walkway and an artificial island. The walkway enabled President George Bush and French President Jacques Chirac to take a brief but stately stroll over a memorial pool at the U.S. cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer during the D-Day 60th anniversary.

    The spokesperson pointed out that the walkway will also be used to allow federal regulators to step over a growing pile of insult added to injury in California. The “over my dead body” formation arose earlier this month when feds demanded that California pay Enron — whose traders joked about gouging them — and other companies nearly $270 million in refunds.

    Once the swindle has been completed, the EPA will recycle the walkway at one of several National Superfund parks.

    “This will allow visitors to take better photos as they step over the natural formations of industrial contaminant,” said a spokesperson for the regulatory agency, who was unable to specify what the letters EPA stand for.

    “I think it’s just one of those made-up marketing phrases, like Häagen-Dazs,” the spokesperson ventured.

    Some Capitol insiders expressed disappointment at the decision, saying they really could have used the overpriced walkway.

    Said one insider, “It would have been nice to give Americans an opportunity to ease vice presidential access to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, especially for those times when Dick does not wish to be seen in the same boat.”

  • Joyce McGreevy is a writer in Portland, Ore.

    More Related Stories

    Featured Slide Shows

    • Share on Twitter
    • Share on Facebook
    • 1 of 11
    • Close
    • Fullscreen
    • Thumbnails

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
      Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
      Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Here by Richard McGuire
      A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
      The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
      This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
      For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Over Easy by Mimi Pond
      When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
      You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Shoplifter by Michael Cho
      Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

      Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

      Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
      This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

    • Recent Slide Shows



    Comment Preview

    Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>