Don't worry, take Prozac

Concerned about meaningless gibberish from the president? Agitated about the imminent loss of overtime benefits? Have no fear, Ms. Management is here.

By Joyce McGreevy
Published August 16, 2004 7:30PM (EDT)

Dear Ms. Management,

Ever since Mr. Right came into my life, I've had a sneaking suspicion that something's different. Don't get me wrong: He's a perfect gentleman, and so thoughtful. The other day he gave me that adorable deer-in-the-headlights look and said, "A sovereign entity means that. It's sovereign. You're a ... you're a ... You've been given sovereignty -- and you're viewed as a sovereign entity."

Wow. I never knew it could be like this.

Sometimes, though, I miss the little things. Jobs. The environment. Civil liberties. Last week I caught him going through my purse. He said he was just testing my security capabilities. Then he tried to distract me with some heavy tax stimulus.

Later I noticed my wallet was empty. At first I thought, "Well, what's five trillion when I have Mr. Right to watch over me?"

The next day I couldn't find my health insurance. When I asked him about it, he laughed and said, "Why don't you just start a health savings account?" How can I when he's spending all my money? Now my pension is missing. I hate to be a bother, but something seems amiss here.

Anyway, my question is, should I greet him at the door in the gingham number or just go with the bubble wrap?

Moonstruck in Montana

Dear Moonstruck,

You are one spoiled, high-maintenance gal! If you really loved Mr. Right you would shut up, sign the loyalty oath -- known technically as a pre-GOP -- and be more supportive of his need to go bass fishing on national TV.

So, maybe he's not the best guy in the world when it comes to managing the household finances, and maybe he doesn't know sovereignty from a sow bug. But when a guy takes all your money and tells you repeatedly, "We've turned the corner and we're not turning back," take it from Ms. Management, that's cause for commitment.

Dear Ms. Management,

Three long years of looking for a job are beginning to take a toll. The hours are grueling, I have trouble sleeping, I subsist on cheap carbs, and at this rate I'll need four jobs -- one to recoup the cost of the job search, two to make up for the decline in wages, and one to cover $700 or more a month for a really crummy health insurance policy that leaves my dependents out in the cold. Gee, maybe I should get a fifth job to pay for medical bills in case, God forbid, I have to actually use my health insurance. What do you think?

Meanwhile, I go to job seminars, job fairs, job training, job shadowing, job club, job camp, bobbing for jobs, job 'n' java, job 'n' jive, job-o-rama, jobalaya, and jobberwockey. So why can't I make any headway?

Out of Luck in Louisiana

Dear Out of Luck,

The president said he would not be satisfied until everyone "who wants a job has a job." And he looks pretty satisfied to Ms. Management. So either you already have a job and you don't know it, or you just don't want it enough.

In today's competitive job market, employers want more than just another polymath with a Ph.D., a Nobel Prize, the cure for cancer, a photographic memory, multilingualism, and the ability to scale tall buildings in a single bound.

You need to come up with something that makes you "special." Something that meets a vital human need. Can you belt out a vapid pop tune? Have you ever made an ass of yourself on TV? Are you a good ol' boy?

Now get out there and put some effort into it. Here's a helpful tip: The next time an interviewer calls you in to waste your time, mess with your head, and dash your hopes, be sure to send a handwritten thank-you note.

Dear Ms. Management,

The other day I was feeling unhappy with my low-quality job. Then I read where Bush campaign assistant Susan Sheybani said, "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"

Right on! Unfortunately, my low-quality job does not come with prescription drug benefits. I shared my unhappy feelings about this with my boss, and he too suggested I get one of those new jobs instead.

By the way, where are the new jobs?

Fired Up in Philly

Dear Fired,

Darn, Ms. Sheybani was hoping you knew. (Oh, no reason.)

Dear Ms. Management,

I'm a small-business owner with a finance question. If I listen to 25 speeches about the fabled $100,000 annual expenses deduction for office equipment, but I'm so broke I couldn't buy a box of used paper clips, then I add my nonexistent share of the 11 percent by which after-tax incomes supposedly increased after 2001, factor in the 50 percent decrease of tax audits on big business, and double the number of working poor being investigated by the IRS, how long will it take for a speeding bus to get from D.C. to Crawford, Texas?

Ticked Off in Tacoma

Dear Tick,

Please have all documentation, receipts, your checkbook, your property, its contents and your DNA ready for our agents at 8 a.m. sharp.

Dear Ms. Management,

Wake up! Wake up, everybody! Sorry for shouting, Ms. Management, but millions of people are about to lose their right to be paid overtime. New federal regulatory changes issued by the Bush administration would drastically increase the number of workers who could be classified as professional, administrative or executive -- and thus make them exempt from overtime coverage. This is terrible! But even the people whose very survival is threatened by this significant loss of income seem blissfully unaware. Why is that?

Concerned in Connecticut

Dear Con,

Did you know that one of the first TV shows ever to win a Peabody Award was "Howdy Doody"? And that the name of the horse who played "Mr. Ed" was Bamboo Harvester?

Later today on CNN Michael Musto will discuss Britney Spears and Madonna. As they say on NBC, "The More You Know!"

(Um, that is the whole thing. And then they, like, do this little shooting star/rainbow thingy. Is this microphone still on? Am I talking?)

Dear Ms. Management,

Hey, I'm trying to run a business here and some turkey in the Washington went and shut down the Equal Pay Initiative. Now he wants to eliminate the Small Business Administration micro-loan program and the SBA Prime programs.

Maybe he doesn't understand that several thousand women-owned businesses helped create the prosperity of the 1990s. I guess Laura doesn't, either. She went to a temporary job placement center in Wisconsin to announce that rolling back tax cuts would harm small businesses.

Maybe someone should send her the memo from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which states that more than 96 percent of small-business owners receive no benefit whatsoever from the Bush tax cut.

I'll say this much. Giving the speech out in the parking lot made perfect sense. Considering what an increasingly hard time small-business owners are having as they struggle to afford payroll, energy prices and the skyrocketing cost of healthcare, putting them out on the street was an apt move.

Worried in Wisconsin

Dear Worried,

You're leaving out the first lady's most important point: "President Bush wants America's families to keep more of something they never have enough of, and that's time -- time to play with their kids, time to take care of their parents, or to volunteer in their communities."

Yes, that's what the president's economic policies really come down to -- taking us all back to the simple life by eliminating the troubling phenomenon of money from our lives, transferring it to a safe, undisclosed location, and replacing money with an unseen force capable of acting on people -- just not feeding, housing and educating them. Good times! Or at least plenty of time to forage for food stamps.

Joyce McGreevy

Joyce McGreevy is a writer in Portland, Ore.

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