Why We Are Still In the Depths of the Great Recession

The Con

Late summer is upon us and economic relief is nowhere in sight. The market dropped another 266 points today on worries the economy is headed for a “double dip.” The Fed’s bleak economic outlook, broadcast yesterday, along with other “fear gauge” issues: smaller than expected economic gains from large companies, and the falling currency markets were the culprits for this bit of “great” recession.

However, larger questions have yet to be answered. Not the questions of how we got ourselves into this mess, those have been extremely well documented. No, these questions are of what do we do now, how do we get out of this huge hole we’ve dug for ourselves?

More stimulus money isn’t the answer, the first stimulus didn’t work, there is no reason to believe a second infusion of money we don’t have will do any better. Renewing the so-called “Bush Tax Cuts” of 2001 should be somewhat helpful but not only do we need more people keeping and spending more of the money they made we have to find a way to pay down the massive deficit at the same time.

The real solution to the problem is money management. This is something we the citizens of the Republic of the United States used to be good at before living large was instituted as the national lifestyle. It’s something we need to begin emphasizing for the next generation as I think trying to reach the current 18-20-sometihngs is something of a lost cause.

Admittedly, my sample is small, the servers I work with in the 5th largest city in the United States. However, they all have a distinct disregard for proper cash handling techniques. One server in particular, Bobby, has a fetish for leaving his cash on any corner of the bar and walking away. Occasionally this can be a large amount of cash – one time over $700. Although I have spoken to management about his fetish to disregard the bank teller rules all bar-restaurants including ours work under (the cash transaction is the property of the server until he/she personally places US currency in the hands of the bartender who is then responsible for the transaction), the bad money handling virus has spread to all the servers on duty.

At first, I thought it was because I was now working in Phoenix, Arizona – L.A. baked in a pizza oven. The floor staff must have murdered what few brain cells remain from nights of drinking, drunk driving and facial battering from falling off of bicycles while pedaling under the influence of shitty beer and worse tequila. Then I thought the education system out west was to blame. I started to ask if they remembered the names of their kindergarten teachers. I wanted to call and complain they hadn’t broken their students properly. Shockingly, they looked at me like uncomprehending recently abused Basset hounds. “What does my kindergarten teacher have to do with the cash,” one server asked me.

Then I realized this was a snarky attempt to thumb their nose at “the Man.” Of course, I was the authority figure, not Nixon. It was my job to enforce the corporate standards when dealing with the bar, monies collected and distributed etc. Due to this adolescent approach employment, I have been watching the service staff fill out the proper forms before they give me their money. After all if the cash is off, I am the one who has to make it right or, if the shortage/overage is egregious enough, I am the one who will have my employment terminated.

While playing bar banker big brother I discovered another issue the servers had acquired: the inability to add or subtract by the number one. As in all fine-dining joints, I round to the nearest dollar on every cash check. Although all the servers know this, they still appear to be unable to realize $15.59 means $16.00, and if the check reads $14.23, in our vernacular that is $14.00. When I brought his constant failure to round and add/subtract properly to Bobby’s attention, he raised his voice in righteous indignation. “We round anyway, why should I care how much money I give you?”

If I were a more conspiratorially inclined individual, I’d believe Bobby was an undercover agent working for the man; his frequent trips to the bathroom weren’t really to shake the weasel but to call his contact and rat me out for trying to get him to realize the value of money. Come to think of it, Bobby’s glasses do give him certain SEC affectations.

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