Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Terry Savage, Clueless Moron

Chicago money columnist Terry Savage has written the most unintentionally hilarious column of the year thus far.

First a question: What is up with these people named Savage? They think that just because they have a unique surname, they have to turn it into a lame-o brand or slogan. There is Dan Savage, of the Savage Love column. There's Michael Savage and his Savage Nation (which sounds better than Weiner Nation). And Terry Savage, for some reason, ends every single column of hers with "That's the Savage Truth." As if adding her surname makes it truer.

The Savage Truth, alas, is that she is one screwy individual. Okay. You could chalk it up to the heat, which makes people a bit crabby. But the incident I'm about to describe took place in what was presumably an air-conditioned car. So what's her excuse for getting mad at little girls?

See, Ms. Savage was riding along with her brother and his fiancee in a tony Chicago neighborhood. They came upon three girls who, with their nanny, were at a lemonade stand. Ms. Savage's happy fantasies of mini-capitalism were destroyed when the girls announced they were giving the lemonade away. Not selling it. No sir. Giving it away. These aren't little capitalists. They're--gasp!--philanthropists!

"No!" I exclaimed from the back seat. "That's not the spirit of giving. You can only really give when you give something you own. They're giving away their parents' things -- the lemonade, cups, candy. It's not theirs to give."

Earth to Terry. Ever heard of getting your parents' permission to do stuff?

Now, as I mentioned, this was a wealthy neighborhood. These little girls have a nanny. Which means their parents have plenty of money to spend on cups and candy and lemonade. Oh, and Terry? DUH.

Oh, but the fun continues.

"You must charge something for the lemonade," I explained. "That's the whole point of a lemonade stand. You figure out your costs -- how much the lemonade costs, and the cups -- and then you charge a little more than what it costs you, so you can make money. Then you can buy more stuff, and make more lemonade, and sell it and make more money."

Meanwhile, one of the little girls turned to her nanny and said, "Why is the mean lady yelling like this?" And the nanny explains that maybe the mean lady is visiting from one of those homes where people go when they can't take care of themselves very well.

At this point, the brother really should've told Terry to STFU. Instead, he took a strawberry lemonade from the kids and no doubt left Terry seething. See, for Terry Savage, this is a sign of a big, big problem: People want something for nothing. And, like a yoga master on uppers, she's twisted and contorted herself, trying to connect free lemonade to a larger point about there being no such thing as a free lunch.

Terry, Terry, Terry. Let me suggest something that you, in your "Capitalism, HO!" frenzy, didn't consider. The little girls may have been taught to be grateful for the things they have. They may actually have friends whose parents have lost their jobs and whose nice, well-kept homes were foreclosed. Their friends and neighbors may be really hot because they don't have money for air conditioning. So they decided to do something nice by giving their neighbors free lemonade to cool off.

It's called charity, Terry. I thought capitalists were big on charity. Since you're a money expert, you know that charity can be beneficial to rich people since they can write it off on their taxes. Or maybe rich people just want to share the wealth. No offense, Terry, but one of those girls could become the next Brooke Astor or Melinda Gates. I imagine years from now, their names will be emblazoned on plaques in libraries and parks and hospitals, and they'll chuckle over you, the mean, clueless lady who bawled them out for being nice.