There’s a lot of anxiety in the U.S. about our country’s “balance of trade deficit,” which currently stands at more than $500 billion a year. Another way of saying this is we import way more than we export, or we have a credit card bill that not only won’t be paid off in our lifetimes, but probably not until pigs fly and also are top competitors in Olympic bobsledding.
What is our problem? Partly it’s that we don’t make enough things that other people in the world want to buy. Yes, we do have millions of talented workers who are experts at making frappaccinos, but that still doesn’t compare to all the tea (and 70 percent of everything on Walmart’s shelves) that’s made in China. However, we do have plenty of other crap to sell. Because the main problem we’re facing is that we’ve become a society of hoarders. We are, without a doubt, the greatest consumers the world has ever seen. We are terrific at buying stuff, using it a couple of times, and then sticking it in a closet or attic or garage while we go shopping for something else in a shinier wrapper.
As long as the people in the world who actually make things are willing to accept our IOUs and keep shipping stuff to us by the cargo tanker load, we will keep squirreling it away. But the day of reckoning is coming. At some point we’re going to have to figure out how to sell the crap we no longer use, because first of all, we’re going to run out of closet space, and second, we’re going to run out of creditors. The Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese, Japanese, Germans, etc. are going to want something more than our Wimpy promise to pay them Tuesday for an iPhone/dishwasher/car/new wardrobe/Costco shopping spree today.
Maybe we aren’t very good at making things that other countries and their hard-working workers want, but we are the best in the world at selling a line of BS. A country that can figure out how to get its consumers to buy 15,753 different kinds of shampoo (listed on Amazon alone) can certainly sell ice cubes to Eskimos (especially now that their igloos are melting). Here’s the promo I’m planning to use to help alleviate my trade imbalance:
Not available in any store! These one-of-a-kind items are better than new; they’re perfectly broken in and stretched out to the point where they can’t be stretched out anymore (which is why they were stuck in the back of my closet in the first place).
Museum quality VCRs, telephones, computers, cell phone chargers, game systems, wires, cords, plugs, controllers, and miscellaneous unidentifiable things with buttons and flashing lights! A time capsule of the age of “What the hell did I buy that for?”
Ever wonder how Americans are able to afford the American Lifestyle? These boxes full of unpaid bills will explain the miracle of living beyond your means better than any how-to book or psychological study. Each box is a treasure trove of minutiae detailing the day-to-day existence and terror of a typical American consumer. Do they really have 12 different credit card accounts? Go out to eat six times in a single day? Have an unpaid hospital bill of $153,000, including a charge of $427 for aspirin?
I know what you’re thinking: How are we going to make up a multi-trillion dollar deficit by selling our used clothes and unused exercise machines? It’s like trying to pay off your mortgage by bringing your penny jar to the bank. But we have some much bigger things that we can try to unload.
For instance, coal companies promised to remediate all the damage they did by blasting away mountaintops in Appalachia and elsewhere. But guess what? Instead, they’ve figured out a way to go bankrupt and dump the properties on us taxpayers. Here’s our sales pitch:
STRIPPED STRIP MINES
Literally mountains of prime real-estate already graded and ready for a multitude of uses. Perfect for filmmakers looking for an otherworldly backdrop to stories of alien invasion or zombie apocalypse. Even better as spots to which to exile your unwanted journalists and political dissidents. Simply cover with asphalt and you’ll have the perfect landing strip for an emergency hideout when your own time of exile comes. Quiet, secluded, no neighbors to bother you (they’ve all fled or died off from drinking the water). No birds to wake you in the morning; not even any insects. No one would ever think to look for you here, and if they did, they might die of thirst or heat exhaustion before finding you.
ABANDONED SHOPPING MALLS
Now that Americans can push a few buttons and have anything delivered to their doors seven days a week, they’ve become too lazy to actually go to stores to buy more crap. But our loss is your gain! Now you can have your own personal shopping paradise. Run around the fountains and indoor topiary! Set up shop in any corner of an abandoned department store or jewelry boutique. Play Frisbee or soccer in the food court! Terrific investment opportunity as these properties are destined to become the Medieval Castles of our age. Someday soon you will be able to recreate the 20th century shopping experience for a nostalgic public. Comes complete with frozen yogurt stands, giant pretzel carts and a multiplex theater, including popcorn maker and a lifetime supply of Junior Mints.
Ok, maybe none of the items so far will be a big moneymaker. But as the world’s leading arms dealer, we do have one product that could easily eliminate our trade deficit in one fell swoop:
You can’t call yourself a world-class despot until you own the ultimate superpower symbol. And Crazy Donny is ready to make you a deal on a hand-made, one-of-a-kind, thoroughly tested Big Boy Bomb. Super Bonus: No need to ever go bankrupt when you can threaten to blow the world’s bankers, their banks, and the whole freaking planet to a kingdom come of their choice. Each special package comes with a complete set of instructions — and a remote controlled nuclear football that any idiot who knows how to tweet a 140-character insult can use to send much more explosive content.