The Year Of Our Incorporation

Well well, we made it to 2002, almost in one piece. Nobody got 2001 right in their crystal ball; does anybody have any idea what 2002 will be like? Besides being the year of the palindrome? At least the Taliban has collapsed, but I'm sick of hearing non-reports of Osama Bin Laden's whereabouts. I would have split at least ten weeks ago if I was him. On the bright side gas prices are below a dollar, whoo-hoo, let the good times roll!

RIINNNGGGG! Just a second. Hello? ... Hello?

Hmmph! Lately when the phone rings, half the time nobody's even on the other end of the line. Real efficient, you telemarketing jerks! And when there is someone they ask, "how are you tonight?" in that tired, thousandth-time-tonight way, like they really care. I usually tell them I broke my leg today and then they go into their pitch anyway. Hell, I don't want to talk about this! Where was I? Oh yeah, good times from gas prices.

When gas shot up a couple dimes per gallon last summer suddenly there was a great hue and cry and politicians scrambled to chop federal taxes on the stuff. By the way, did you ever add up all the taxes you pay per gallon? There's signs right next to the pumps about it. In Californy it's about 18 cents to the Feds and 18 cents to the State and then there's sales tax. Without taxes the price seems low indeed. So why isn't everybody happy now? I guess cheap gas isn't enough to make for good times all by itself. Funny, for years now every time I see gas prices down near a dollar, I feel like we'll never see prices that low again. I first felt that way in 1988 or so. What with more than a decade's worth of inflation, for gas prices to be this low now is mind-boggling. If this were 1988, it'd be like they were selling it at 60 cents a gallon! How did all this come about? Could Saudi Arabia be doing penance for all the support it's given to those fundamentalist Wahabbis over the years? Nah, fat chance that the Saudis are doing something like this even for their very best buddies, the two George Bushes.

By the way, ever hear of the Wahabbi sect? Osama Bin Laden is Wahabbi. They're the ones who went back to the off-with-their-heads Islamic law stuff that the Taliban was into. They've only been around a little over a hundred years or so. There's a really interesting article by Barbara Ehrenreich comparing these Islamic fundamentalists to the Protestants of the Reformation in The Progressive's January issue. Check it out.

Anyway, with the Taliban all toasted and him on the run, nothing but boring mine sweeping is going on in Afghanistan these days. The carrion birds of the media will soon be coming home to Washington again. Just in time, the cesspools should be nicely backed up; 2002 should be a great year for scandals! The best one will be about how this big guy N. Ron went bankrupt. N. Ron Somebody, what's his name? You know, that guy who donated boxcars of cash to all the big Republicans like Dubya in the 2000 election and got all those nice tax breaks in return. N. Ron Hubbard was it? No. Oh that's it, I mean The Enron Corporation.

Could the Enron Scandal be the big one that brings down Resident Bush? You gotta wonder what's really going on when Fortune magazine names the same company six years in a row as Best Run and suddenly they're broke. What exactly was Enron doing that so impressed the financial writers? Something very, CREATIVE, shall we say? I hope their top greedheads who escaped with millions of dollars get slapped with some serious class action lawsuits by the employees and individual investors who lost their shirts in Enron's paper fantasy world.

Paper fantasy? Well remember that Enron never made any tangible goods like cars or computers. They bought and sold futures. They weren't doing anything except shuffling paper promises around, which they were able to do more efficiently than others. How very modern of them! They used sophisticated models to plan how and when to buy natural gas and electric power, but then they hit the power shortage crisis last year and it messed up all their calculations. They weren't so efficient anymore! Also, they apparently hid a lot of their debt by creating lots of subsidiaries. These were up to 97% owned by Enron, but because they had someone else own 3%, it wasn't considered wholly owned. Therefore they didn't have to include it as a liability on their books. Nice trick. Legal, but still intended to hide mountains of debt from shareholders. A bunch of those subsidiaries collapsed, and then the WTC bombing happened, then energy prices dropped. Suddenly all bets were off, for betting it was.

So where were all the government watchdogs? Dubya's man in charge of the SEC, Harvey Pitt, was one of the most vocal advocates of DE-regulation ever before he came to the post. No watchdogs here, just foxes in the hen house. C'mon boys, talk about smaller government all you want but a company going from $200 billion to bankruptcy in one year should have shown up on someone's radar screen. It's your job to REGULATE these companies, not coddle them.

Don't like that scandal? We could go after the spooks of our intelligence agencies who acted like a bunch of clueless Clouseaus back in August when they should have zeroed in on Osama and stopped his gang. Maybe we should go after the brilliant bureaucrats who were still giving the Taliban millions of dollars in aid as late as last May. Or the CIA's Mensa grads who taught them how to grow opium poppies for fun and profit. Sorry, The Prophet. I can't wait for a Congressional hearing to mete out responsibility for those!

The spooks'll cry that they can't testify due to National Security of course. Security!? What are they talking about? I don't feel secure anymore, do you? I bet Congress is too busy for hearings though, what with all the fumigating, setting up metal detectors and installing little rooms by the Capitol's entrances for strip searches. With closed circuit TV piped directly to their offices, no doubt. Maybe that's what 2002 will be: The Year of Security. Actually I wouldn't mind a little more security as long as it makes me safe from telemarketers.

RIINNNGGGG! Oh god, I bet it's another one.

"Hello? Oh my wife can't come to the phone, she died earlier today. How are you doing? I'm happy to hear that, so what can I buy from you today? Vacation condos? Sorry, I'm already on vacation; it's called unemployment! Call again soon!"

Cheap entertainment. I was a telemarketer in a past life, you know. Worse, I was a telemarketing manager. I used to write pitches for all sorts of crap. I love to critique the poor bastards who call me if I have the time to RIINNNGGGG! listen. Damn, they are busy tonight!

"Hello?... *#!&$ automatic dialing machines! Hello? Yes this is Mr. Pipes. You want me to do a survey on dehydrated pimple cream? How long will it take? Fifteen minutes, no problem! I'm only on deadline for my column. Never mind. What do you need from me? Demographics information, like what race am I? Do you have a slot for Human Race? It's the only race I believe in. Then put down Scotch-Irish, German, English and Honorary Japanese. Okay WASP, if that's all you have. But I'm not Protestant anymore, I'm Zen-Christian-Taoist. Do you have one for WASZCT? Y'know what, if you don't have that, maybe you should just call someone else. Nothing personal, good night!"

I broke a rule there. I don't respond to polls and surveys for free anymore, they have to give me something before I'll participate. Everyone, you should copyright your life! Force the business people to buy your information. Don't send in registration cards that ask for 800 personal facts when all you've bought is a damn toaster oven. All they do is sell your information over and over and it only guarantees a steady rain of junk mail and phone calls. Maybe 2002's the year when too much advertising finally turns us all into zombies. When I went to The Lord of The Rings, the admission was up to NINE dollars and I was still exposed to commercials! It was more than any movie I'd ever been to, like 20 minutes worth. And a lot of them weren't even trailers for movies. Same thing for AOL, which I finally gave up on; I was spending more than $23 a month and still got ads in every screen.

RIINNNGGGG! Not again!

"Hello? Oh hi Deej! Boy am I glad there's a real person instead of... Yeah, the column's almost done. About two paragraphs to go. Well let me go and I'll have it to you in fifteen minutes. Okay, thanks."

In The Matrix, they probably got all that heat from the human bodies by making them angry with too many virtual telemarketing calls. But we don't live in a controlled environment like that, do we? Still, in a world where corporations have all the power maybe it makes sense to incorporate yourself too. Now you can take advantage of all those nice tax loopholes the government has so thoughtfully created for you! At least be jealous of your own assets and keep your little subsidiaries off the books so no one knows how precarious your financial condition really is. And learn to copyright your life and market your personal information better when the big boys come calling!

I guess that means I have to go back into the Closet right now and draw up my own articles of incorporation. Oh by the way, my new marketing people have asked me to remind you that this column has been another patented Rusty Rant(tm), a product of the Rustico, a wholly owned, not-profitable subsidiary of Rusty Pipes Enterprises, Inc. If you liked this product check out our complete line of recycled opinions, palindromes and intellectual humor supplements at Pipe's Cheap Gas stations everywhere. Enjoy them with a tall glass of Rusty's Unfiltered Urban Drinking Water, full of iron and minerals for today's thinking people. Thanks for reading and please fill out the registration card for news of future products. Until next month, The Closet is closed.

(C) 2002 - Rusty Pipes

Official Disclaimer:
Editor #1: "Um, Mr. Pipes' statements are purely..."
Editor #2: "Clearly, we're getting into a dangerous area here where national security could be breached by our..."
Editor #1: "Yes, and even if we did run any ads in Taliban Monthly..."
Editor #1: "No! God, no! I'm not saying... but if.. if we HAD done..."
Editor #2: "Perhaps it would be best if we just..."
Editor #1: "Because we really can't. Bec...Because of national security. We have to go now."