In the face of global doom and gloom, there are still some standing up for frippery, challenging prudence and championing financial recklessness. Judging by these recent cases there is a widespread disregard for miserliness. Why let a little recession get you down?
Oxford University recently ran a three-year study costing around £300,000, which found that ducks may be even more comfortable standing under a sprinkler than paddling in a pond. The lead researcher concluded that ducks basically just like water (Guardian, May 20th). And if these ground-breaking results weren’t enough, Cleveland State University researchers recently assessed the physical traits of female characters from the first 20 James Bond films, revealing that at least 90 percent were young, slim and of above-average looks (Daily Telegraph, June 7th).

And if you’re not a scientist, there’s all sorts of other ways to waste your money. The Wookey Hole tourist facility in Somerset recently hired a witch-in-residence at a yearly salary of £50k (The Times, July 29th). Her job will entail cackling, looking like a hag, and full-time cave-lingering during tourist season. Carole Bohanan was hired from 300 hag-hopefuls.

Some American government agencies also seem to have been slow to catch on to the idea of cutting down spending. The Veterans Administration has been paying POW-labelled disability benefits to 1,252 people. This is despite the fact that there are only 587 surviving U.S. prisoners of war. The Associated Press found that even though the Pentagon POW list is posted online, the Veterans Administration does not routinely check it when a veteran applies for POW status.

However, some people have clearly been hit harder by the recession than others. A 36-year-old woman pleaded guilty to prostitution in Oklahoma City in June, for giving oral sex to a fast food employee in exchange for a case of chips (USA Today, June 24th). And a 36-year-old drag queen, who said he usually gets $60 for oral sex, was lately receiving offers as low as $5. ‘Ray’ said, “I didn’t spend two hours getting my makeup on and all dressed up for $5.” (Toronto Star, June 7th) I’m sure we all know the feeling.

But if you are going to get angry about the recession, try to control yourself – unlike two formerly well-off retired couples in Speyer, Germany. The phrase ‘German efficiency’ springs to mind, as their antics would usually be confined to angry daydreams. Their savings almost wiped out, they vented their anger by kidnapping their investment adviser, James Amburn. They took him to their vacation home, bound him like a mummy and beat and tortured him over several days, fracturing two ribs, in an attempt to punish him and extort his own property as partial compensation for their losses. Police rescued him after he managed to send a coded message by fax (The Times, June 24th).

We can draw from this that there’s no point in resorting to prostitution as the market for that has crashed as well – perhaps you’d be better off becoming a full-time witch. But no matter what the state of your finances, try not to kidnap your banker.

Lucy Hayes

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