Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bear market bull

Though she was not vouchsafed a heroine’s death – which would have been a neat trick for a car – Sylvia nevertheless didn’t let me down even up to and including her final journey.
She got me safely to the mechanic who thumbs-downed the plucky little Mazda 323’s future, gently suggesting that by investing some $4000 in repairs to make roadworthy a $2000 car (her purchase price more than ten years ago) I hadn’t thoroughly grasped the finer points of the law of diminishing returns.
The mechanic might have something there – I tend to hang onto things well past their sell by’s. Like the dog for instance; she too is somewhat less than roadworthy these days.
At nearly thirteen years old she’s starting to look a little rough around the edges. Her eyes are milky with cataracts, she has luxating patellas (her joints pop in and out with astonishing ease) she’s a little creaky with arthritis and the after-luxating effects, her teeth aren’t much to talk about and she has weird little cyst-like bumps springing up on her back like toadstools after a spring rain.
I just got her back from the groomer who cut and snipped the worst mats and tats off her, shaved her close, shaped her head, sluiced out her ears and trimmed her pad-hair. $59.98 thank you very much – and worth every penny (including the ten dollar tip) for being able to perform all these ablutions and cut her toenails – a feat my last vet would only do under sedation. (I’m almost sure it was for the dog.)
Six pounds of unhappy Yorkshire Terrier can be a surprisingly formidable article – she screams like a lost soul writhing in the pits of hell (seriously – you should hear it…) and squirms with an intensity that would put a boa constrictor to shame.
I know people are always writing these funny exaggerated little stories about their pet’s adorable foibles, but I am seriously not kidding. She’s a terror.
On the other hand, she doesn’t bite, she's cute as hell, and I love her more than money.
But talk about your diminishing returns; if I counted up all the hair-do’s, vet visits, airplane tickets, dog food, dog treats (I should buy shares in Milk Bone and Hartz Mountain) booster shots, collar and leash accoutrements, carry cases, dog medicine, vitamins, kennel costs and planned, as well as emergency operations (she’s missing her ovaries, six teeth, something benign that showed up on her tiny butt and at least a year of my life when she was afflicted with a pancreatic attack last year – that visit alone cost more than $2000) it would have to amount to several thousands of dollars – well into four or even five figures.
If I really did the math, she probably costs me as much as the car each year – gas, oil and insurance included – though with considerably less mileage, and virtually no convenience.
If I could cash in this investment, realize the returns so to speak, I might have my retirement taken care of – certainly a kitchen reno, a newer car, a holiday or two and enough lip collagen to rank me right up there with Melanie Griffith and the Bride of Wildenstein.
Not that I would of course – but I could.
But I’m not alone in being late in latching on to this ‘diminishing returns’ thing. Though I’m sure he considers himself as more of a ‘magic of compound interest’ type of guy than a capitol loss, the truth of the matter is that the President of the United States is a plummeting stock minus the stop/loss order – how low can he go?
It’s a bear market for Bush. Returns are (empirically) diminishing when you, a) find yourself still trapped in a war with no end in sight and bodies continuing to pile up; b) watch gas prices soar at the start of a busy summer; c) get your ass handed to you, hearing the unvarnished truth (though filtered through satire) face to face for the first time ever - through the conduit of a Comedy Central comedian.
Steven Colbert rocked that White House Correspondent’s dinner! He ruled – and he had the entire White House grinding their teeth into splintered stumps in silent fury as he told them truth after equally uncomfortable truth:
“Misery accomplished,” he said, then aimed his sites on a series of high profile pols.
John McCain? Wham! The Joint Chiefs? Whack! Rumsfeld? Kapow! Justice Scalia? Kee-runch!
George W. Bush? Slayed, sliced and served up for dinner, making a mockery of the shrimp cocktail and rubber chicken, himself looking more as though he was tasting and smelling something very, very bad indeed.
“The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady,” remarked the host of The Colbert Report. “You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man’s beliefs never will.”
“I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only FOR things, he stands ON things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And he sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.”
And the White House press corps for whom the dinner was ostensibly held?
“Over the last five years you people were so good over tax cuts, W.M.D. intelligence, the affect of global warming,” said Colbert. “We Americans didn’t want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out…”
Ouch baby.
In the guise of his TV alter ego, the faux newsman with the right wing bias, Colbert probably didn’t need to add (though he most assuredly did): “I have nothing but contempt for these people.”
It was brilliant, it was pointed, it was satire at its finest. But at the end of the day, it was too true to be funny.
Diminishing returns.
Like Canada’s relationship with the Bush government, exposed now for what it truly is – from fits of pique and punishing language directed at our nation for not joining in the war on Iraq, to the myriad taxes, regulations and restrictions placed on goods and services we might have assumed fell under the heading of Free Trade, to the recent deal on softwood lumber (we took it because there was and never would be any other choice) – Canada has finally had our rose-coloured spectacles forcibly removed. Would that the citizens of the US had seen it sooner.
I’ll miss Sylvia the car – I’m hanging on to Lily the dog – but they both offered good value for money, whether through dependability or laughs.
The Bush administration offers neither.


Sheena said...

Alas, a timely post. I never named by faithful and reliable pal, the blue '93 Accord, but I fear that she cannot survive the trip down the 401 later this month and will need to be put out to pasture.

Though my triceps have never looked better since she hasn't had power steering in over a year.

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