Obamanomics got you down? Tired of PB&J for lunch? Does “hope and change” leave you hoping for some substantial change — of the coin variety? Fear not, pilgrim — there are always ways to make a buck in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Here are the top ten:
10. Get a job with the White House, then quit after a year or so and write a tell-all book. Folks love to read about organizations more dysfunctional than their own. If a political small-timer like former “car czar” Steve Rattner can do it, so can you. And a bunch of jobs in the Administration are opening up now, so the timing’s right. Be sure to include a bonus chapter on the brilliant bon mots served up by VP Joe Biden over an afternoon beer.
9. Be a FOOL. If you’re a Friend of Obama Laws (“FOOL”) and an attorney, the president’s signature on massive new legislation presents myriad opportunities to find legal niches that generate big billable hours. Even if you’re not an attorney, you can read the 2,000+ pages of the health care reform bill and the growing bulk of implementing regulations. Then, as you’ll know more than any of the Democrats who voted for it, hang out a shingle as a health care reform corporate consultant and charge $200/hour for your advisory services.
8. Exploit the NASA manned-space vacuum. It’s no secret that the politically conservative voters populating the primary manned-space states — Florida, Texas, and Alabama — are reluctant to drink the president’s Kool-Aid. So, it’s hardly surprising in the Age of Obama that manned space missions are going the way of the dodo bird, 8-track tapes and fiscally-responsible Democrats. But this retrenchment presents entrepreneurial opportunities. Scarf up all the manned-space trinkets you can find — or make your own — and post them on eBay. Before you can say “Houston, we have a problem,” your retro delights will be selling like hotcakes.
7. Create and market a board game. One of America’s all-time favorite board games, Monopoly, was popularized during the Great Depression and made a millionaire of its principal designer, Charles Darrow, only a few years after he’d lost his sales job following the stock market crash of 1929. America is again in economic turmoil, in large part due to the games played by our government leaders. So, here’s an idea for a reality-based game that aptly symbolizes the Age of Obama and may help you achieve Mr. Darrow’s success: In Moron-opoly, students on College Lane vote for good-looking, computer-savvy candidates who decimate the job market the students are about to enter, urban dwellers on City Street elect candidates who loot the treasury and then cut essential services, seniors on Retirement Village Way vote for candidates who debase the currency and diminish the value of the seniors’ fixed income, and minority voters on Diversity Plaza choose candidates of like race or ethnicity who do all of the above. The first player to run out of resources wins — well, loses. But, hey, that’s the joy — and sorrow — of Moron-opoly!
6. Get elected to Congress. Public office is where the money’s at in the Age of Obama. Even if you vote to double the income tax or never return your constituents’ calls, you’re guaranteed at least $348,000 for the next two years as a representative. The real jackpot, though, is a Senate seat — significantly more difficult to obtain with only about one-fourth the number of House seats — but the pay-off is a guarantee of a million dollars for the next six years, even if you’re late for work every day.
5. Start a new business. In Hong Kong, Ireland or the Czech Republic, all of which have lower corporate tax rates than the U.S.
4. Make money. Hire a master engraver to create currency dies. Invest in a high-end printer and suitable paper stock, then print your own greenbacks. Yes, this is counterfeiting, and yes, counterfeiting is illegal. But if the president and his fellow Democrats continue on their bankrupting spending spree, real currency will be worth about the same as your recently-purchased paper stock. Meanwhile, the debasement of the currency will mean boatloads of it will be required, causing a run on the paper stock commodity that you recently stockpiled.
3. Die before December 31, 2010. A tough way to make a buck, but the federal estate (death) tax repealed this year is currently scheduled to come back with a vengeance in 2011. And we’re not talking chicken feed, with punitive tax rates starting at 55% on estates worth a million dollars (and, yes, Virginia, the value of your home is included). We all gotta go sometime, so who should benefit from your years of labor — your survivors who’ll say Kaddish for you or cry at your wake, or a bevy of bureaucrats at the IRS sitting on a fat government pension?
2. Start a labor union. Considering the precipitous drop in union membership in recent decades, this may appear at first glance to be a contrarian play. But peel back the onion a layer or two: while membership in private sector unions has fallen into single digits, public sector unions are a growth industry — funded by the taxpayers (i.e., you) who pay the salaries of the government workers who use a part of it to pay union dues. The cash flow is huge. For the upcoming mid-term elections, the AFL-CIO (which includes the largest teachers union), the SEIU (which includes the San Francisco strippers of Local 790), and the AFSCME (the Association of Federal, State, County & Municipal Employees) are spending $100 million of mostly taxpayer money (see above) for liberal candidates who promise to bring them more taxpayer money. To get in on this game, launch, say, the Federated Gum Scrapers of America, and then you’ll be able to “labor” like your union executive peers for a $300,000+ salary.
1. Vote. For political candidates who pledge to make the Age of Obama the Moment of Obama; the briefer the moment, the lesser the affliction. America’s learning the hard way that a government-run economy is very effective at enriching the politically-favored elite and impoverishing a nation. Free-market capitalism includes its share of inequities, but nothing yet beats it for creating and distributing wealth. So, your best chance (and your neighbor’s) for making money is to vote for a pro-capitalist Congress that stops Obamanomics dead in its tracks, cuts government spending and restores the “private” in private enterprise.
Samuel R. Lewis is an assistant general counsel for a global telecommunications company. He writes commentary on current, past, and future events based on his diverse experiences as a former U.S. Army officer, parent, and participant in some of the most tumultuous events of the past 20 years in the business world.