Introduction to How to Prosper in the Coming Apocalypse
The most important things for you to concern yourself with in the coming bad years is, Who’s responsible and how can I get even? It is essential that we find someone to blame and really beat the hell out of him. Sure, the tragedy of the past is that we are condemned to repeat it, but does that make you feel any better? No! Your first task is to find a scapegoat.
It will be recalled that Germany in the 1930s blamed the Jews for its economic woes. Jews are good scapegoats because with their long pointy tails they are easily visible, but they are definitely not to blame for the present recession. True, one memorable bar mitzvah did wreck the economy of Scarsdale in the summer of 1976, but Scarsdale’s economy had been shaky for some time anyway, what with the inordinate amount of money the town had spent on wall-to-wall carpeting for its sewer system.
Modern Americans are fortunate in having many scapegoats to blame: the Arabs for their oil pricing, the Russians for the arms race, the Japanese for their exports, the Federal Reserve, the bankers, welfare recipients, stockbrokers, Republicans, Democrats, the President, the Governor, the Mayor. Our common sense, however, tells us that none of these can accurately be cited as the source of America’s financial doldrums.
That is because the true source of America’s financial doldrums is the old American Basketball Association. This nation was doing just fine until the merger of the A.B.A. with the National Basketball Association. Our national debt just prior to the merger was a manageable five hundred billion dollars; only ten million people were out of work; and only fifteen million more people on welfare drained the nation’s lifeblood; murder, rape, burglary, larceny, arson, and vandalism caused untold suffering to no more than one person in every three households.
But observe the astonishing change on the very day the A.B.A. and N.B.A. inked their pact: the balance of world geopolitics was violently and permanently altered, social unrest escalated at an unprecedented rate, and international recessionary trends manifested themselves with unwonted ferocity. Plus, it rained like hell that day–flooded subways, battered umbrellas, not a taxi to be had for love or money! What a mess!
It should be particularly noted that on that day, the cost of garbanzo beans registered an incredible 8.9 fluctuation on the Kremnitzer-Fergenmacher scale. Because garbanzos are vital to the production of reinforced pantyhose, they are traditionally used by social scientists as the most sensitive and accurate barometer of economic change. A mere three-ounce fluctuation in any given month has proven time and again to be a harbinger of good times or bad, and on A.B.A.-N.B.A. merger day you couldn’t find a single can on the shelf of the A&P on Madison Avenue and Eighty-seventh Street. The very next week you had the Great Pantyhose Scare.
Note, too, the significant dip in sales of long-playing polka albums, virtually a mirror image of the growth in pro basketball salaries. Goddamn things fell right off the chart!
So I say, let’s get these basketball players and hurt them bad. Break their fingers! Smash their kneecaps! Now, you say that punishing basketball players won’t bring back a stable economy. Not true! In February 1978, when pro basketball was suspended for three days to allow for conversion of player heights to the metric system, the Dow Jones average soared, consumer prices leveled out for the first time since the McKinley assassination, and put-and-call volume on the Chicago sowbelly exchange hit a peak unmatched before or since. Actually, there weren’t that many puts, but the calls! “Sowbellies! Sowbellies!” You couldn’t cross Michigan Avenue without hearing some damn fool hollering, “Sowbellies!”
Copyright (c) Richard Curtis