I go to a 4th of July party

Bruce Krasting's picture
So I go to a 4th of July party. Lots of people; tons of screaming kids.
It’s one of those get-togethers where everyone brings some food to
share. (As a result there is ten varieties of potato salad, a half dozen
vegetable dips and five plates of deviled eggs. And it was hot out.) I brought vodka.

It was a mixed crowd. A few local business folks (my plumber was there).
Mostly commuters to the Big Apple. Lawyers, a doctor or two. I met one
accountant. The Madison Avenue types are always a laugh. A number of
Wall Streeters (more women than men). And one blogger.

So I started an argument. It got out of hand. Some spouses had to break
it up. One lady later accused me of pushing the row; I was ‘raining’ on the holiday fun. And anyway, “there were kids around”. What type of example were “we” setting arguing like that?

At one point I found myself in a small crowd of folks. Being the
provocateur that I am, I asked the ‘right’ person what she thought of
Obama’s comments last week about taxing the shit out of those who use
corporate jets.

The response was an unequivocal (and predictable) voice of approval.
This person is a teacher. She knows first hand about the squeeze her
profession is facing. She says:

“Those who fly on these planes have to pay!”

I asked this particular question because I happened to know that one guy
in the mix worked for GECC (and knew a thing or two about aircraft
financing). Another has a wife who makes a decent buck as a ‘Stu’ on
private flights. They jumped all over the teacher.

That husband:

“You think it’s okay to put my wife out of work? So teachers can get a bloated pension?”

The GE guy:

“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Private aviation contributes $150 billion to the US economy. It employs 1.2mm people, most of those are union jobs. This is a success story. And you want to cripple it!

The teacher looked like she was hit with a brick. But she has supporters. The local Veterinarian comes back with;

“What are you? Tea baggers? (the growing crowd of kids loved that insult) Why do you attack (the teacher). She’s been making a real contribution most of her life!

I guy I don’t know chips in:

I work for IBM. We have a 401 plan, but there is no guaranteed pension for me. Why should there be for a teacher? For that matter, why should a conductor on Metro North get that?

This was great. The IBMer stepped into a trap. He didn’t know that there were many attendees who work on the trains. (The main rail yard is right here in town) So right away it was; Fuck that! and Bullshit! and Fuck you! The poor IBM guy slinked off mumbling something about needing to ‘refresh’ a drink.

The Vet, (who now thought he was on the high ground) rang out:

The Republicans are stupid. We should roll back the Bush tax cuts. Rich people can afford to pay more!

I thought it was time to stir the pot a bit more.  So I shook things up.
I knew that the damn Vet was overcharging a bundle tending for the dogs
and cats. So I say:

rich? And who will pay these taxes you want? This plan will also index
the AMT tax. Anyone with $165,000 of partnership or S-corp income is
going to get hit.

Then I rubbed it in with:

If you own a business and live in a high income tax state and also pay property taxes and have kids you’re about to be whacked!

The Vet, of course, has all of that working against him. He looks surprised and says:


So I add:

can’t move the dial on our problems with more taxes. You have to cut
expenses. If you’re not willing to talk about Social Security and
Medicare you’re just blowing in the wind.

That took things over the top. Those that were AARP eligible looked as if I had farted. Those under 35 gave a Yeah! Or a Right on! So I closed the door on any chance of civility when I asked a young (hot head) who works construction:

“How do you feel about paying Social Security for old people”. 

He comes right back with the response I was looking for:

It’s stealing!

That got everyone going. Out of no place there are now 20 are so arguing about one thing or the other.

-The local Pastor is having a set-to with an accountant.
-A nurse is fighting with a doctor.
-Two mothers are ganging up against the middle school principal.
-The soccer coach is arguing with two Wall Street wives.
oldsters are defending the fact that they get SS benefits with five
younger workers who are complaining they will not see a penny of what
they have paid. The grey hairs are losing big time. “Boomers Suck!” is heard.
-The car dealer is fighting with the insurance salesman. This is getting physical with both sides pushing. (I learned later that infidelity, not politics or economics was the issue)
guy who runs a decent sized lawn business is fighting with two of his
customers over the fact that illegal aliens are mowing the lawns. One of
the wives is screaming at the poor bastard.
people are fighting over the local nuke (Indian Point). Some wanted it
closed, those who work there were fighting like hell.
-Young kids are crying. Dogs are barking. Adults are shouting.
-Husbands are trying to pull back wives. Wives are pulling back husbands. 
-Fingers are pointing and swearing is happening. 

And then it got ugly.

Ms Mars, (the obese portly lady who gives out all the parking tickets in town that EVERYONE hates) tripped over a chair (she later said she was pushed)
and all 260 pounds of her fell flat in the middle of an eight-foot
aluminum folding table. There was at least 20 paper plates filled with
all sorts of stuff that got catapulted into the air. Ripe potato salad
and uneaten eggs were launched. Chewed on spare ribs were flying next to
cups of stale beer and watery cola. Most of the flying garbage met in
the middle and ended up on the prostrate Ms Mars.

It didn’t end there.

The football coach was startled by the flying Ms. Mars. He jumped up so
fast that he banged full force into the librarian. Her ninety-five
pounds got tossed (butt first) into the next table and it too became a
casualty with food, people and folding chairs going in every direction.
Several folks fell to the ground trying to avoid the flying food and

And then it got silent. Only the music and a dog could be heard. The hostess came running from her home screaming “Is anyone hurt?!?”

And then she tripped over a pool toy (the Meyer twins were responsible for leaving it there). It was a perfect face plant. Dozens where heard groaning in sympathy. (I actually heard a chuckle or two)

I think it was the kids who first started really laughing. Ms. Mars and the librarian were dirty, but fine. (Ms Mars looked like she had been swimming in a dumpster)
Our hostess suffered little more than grass stains and embarrassment.
So soon everyone was laughing and there was a collective effort to right
tables and chairs and clean up some of the rancid salads. The fighting
ended as abruptly as it had started.

I left early. There was supposed to be some fireworks after sunset. I’d seen (and set off) enough already.

In our crazy system the next election cycle starts this weekend. If
there is a credible candidate against Obama we are going to see some
ugliness come to the surface. There might even be a food fight or two.
The country is deeply divided on so many issues. Unfortunately I don’t
think it will end with a laugh. It  might just rip us apart.


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No More Bubbles's picture

This story is BS because cops (PIGS) didn't show up, and no one got shot.

knowless's picture

great story, wish my fourth had been so memorable.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Very true, but even in "legitimate" uses, there are abuses...


LetThemEatRand's picture

Agreed.   In every system there is corruption.  The key is to try to find an acceptable balance.  Our system is so far out of balance at the moment that it threatens to undo everything that made it great.

tip e. canoe's picture

just read this and couldn't agree more.   maybe the key is implementing good buffers?    still wondering why it is that 1% of the population of any given group end up fucking it up for the other 99% (on a micro and/or macro scale).

something's very wrong when that happens over and over and over again.

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Taxes are the corrupt, irresponsible spending of other people's money - there are no guidelines, thus a free-for-all - it has always been this way, it will always be that way - perhaps...

LetThemEatRand's picture

That is only true if we lose all control over our government, which we have.  A government by the people and for the people, taxes itself in order to pool resources for the common good.  I can't build a road by myself, but I can with the help of my neighbors.   It's when the government taxes my neighbor in order to give a bonus to Jamie Dimon, that we start having a problem.  

Leo Kolivakis's picture

Damn Bruce, why didn't you invite me to this pathetic BBQ?!? Then you would have seen some real fireworks go off!!! :)

jedimarkus's picture

I love this!  Where is the You Tube video?

Blotsky's picture
Today is the day that we fill the air with
the smell of burning sulfur so that we cannot
smell the stench of the rotten corpse of the

This is the day that we fill the air with
the sounds of marching bands and fireworks
so that we cannot hear the rattling of our
Chains. If this 4th of July means anything more to you, than a faded memory of what was, then have fun.

chumbawamba's picture

Fine fiction.

I am Chumbawamba.

OldTrooper's picture

Sorry I missed that one, Bruce!

Tunga's picture

And underneath it all an underlying truth; not one of them knows the meaning of the word income.


Liberty my friends. The right to the fruits of your labors. It's unalienable and worth fighting for. Income? Not so much. 

Lucius Cornelius Sulla's picture

This whole article seems like a flash back to holidays with my extended family.  Did the world of Norman Rockwell ever really exist?

QQQBall's picture

Bruce, do I have to pay a fee to have you come my next party, or will a lot of vodka suffice?

Freddie's picture

BTW - who invited the fat lady who gives everyone a parking ticket?   That bitch would be out in the backyard under a tree eating potato salad with the dogs begging for food.

Freddie's picture

Awesome and hilarious Bruce.  I love how you nuked the vet.  They gouge on vaccines that ae often not needed.  In this Obam Depression - people pet's are getting hit hard as the middle class implodes.

SamuelMaverick's picture

Bruce, I loved this post. I have had numerous occasions where I have started this same type of conversation at family get togethers and friend gatherings, and came close to, but did not equal , your results of people falling over and smashing tables.  Most times my conversations end when I demand that the lefty / socialist / redistributionists explain to me why I should be allowed to take money from my neighbor, or why they should take it from me and my family ??  The conversations have gone to defcon 5, but never being one to back down to thieves and cowards, I have survived the encounters with many state workers and teachers all who end up tucking tail and running when I start demanding they pay me the equivalent of their pay / time off / benefits.

LetThemEatRand's picture

One of the most ardent tea party members/anti-lefties I know attended public high-school, state college, and state law school, and worked for the federal government for her first year out of school, which experience led to a lucrative position at a private firm.  If it were up to her, she would now defund every program from which she benefitted on her climb up the ladder because she has an obsessive hatred of paying taxes (even though she has plenty left over to live an extremely posh lift-styele).   "Pull up the ladder, I'm on the life boat!"    Perhaps that makes perfect sense to you, but I find it selfish and hypocritical if not downright anti-social.  Most of us who have made a comfortable living in this society benefited in multiple ways from the programs you decry, and would consider teachers' wages to be below poverty level.

Fred Hayek's picture

So . . in your view of things, only someone who didn't go to public school, didn't attend a college that took public money of any sort and hasn't benefitted from government in any way is free to criticize it? Yes, that's an extreme version of your apparent position but can you see how silly that is?

If someone benefitted in some way from a policy that they had no choice about, especially as a child, and they come to oppose it, would you call that hypocrisy? Folly would never change in such a regime as long as it was imposed early enough.

The idea of government programs as unchangeable metaphysical facts is a curious concept. Good luck with it.

LetThemEatRand's picture

There's a big difference between being critical and constructive, and simply being selfish to the point of narcissism.   The person to whom I refer is a shining example of how our hybrid socialistic/capitalistic system can turn an otherwise disadvantaged person into a raging capitalist success.  Such a person would much more likely have remained a peasant were it not for the opportunities afforded her by socialist policies.    I would venture to say that millions of Americans who now make up the middle- and upper middle class, took advantage of public schools to which they were driven in public busses on public roads, where they were taught by public teachers.  Don't mistake selfishness with political ideology.  Or then again, do.  It's what comprises a good chunk of the Tea Party.  Good luck with that.  

malek's picture

Your world view seems pretty distorted to me. Do you really believe only "socialist policies" give a large number of people opportunities to climb up the ladder??

the grateful unemployed's picture

recipe for martini potato salad


boil diced potatoes, drain and rinse in vodka

open a jar of martini olives, soaked in vermouth, and cut in half,

fold olives and sliced eggs potatoes and mayonaisse together

salt and pepper to taste, or just use pepper vodka

dolly madison's picture

Blech, Right vs. Left fighting, how boring.

megalomakeitrainiac's picture


Jerry !   Jerry !   Jerry !   


Problem Is's picture

+5... I wanna see the Wall Street wives in a hair pull, bra torn, bitch slap fest...

Problem Is's picture

For Chrissakes Bruce...
You can't take a Zero Hedger anywhere...

Popping off like that makes you brother-in-law or son-in law material to the hostess...

Nice job, I'm still laughing...

JeffB's picture

Thanks. It's always nice to have a little entertainment with our commentary, even if only vicariously.

mayhem_korner's picture

That explains it.  We thought we had a thunderstorm pushing through - there was a big, single roaring clap but no rain.  Must've been Ms. Mars taking her face plant...

Great story.  Indicative of the primal fear that lies just under the surface.  Urban warfare is a comin'...

...hope y'all got the right mix of metals stored.

Corn1945's picture

Obama is desperately trying to distract people from his failed policies by scape-goating a group of people. This has been a tactic used by politicans since the beginning of time.

This time, people are starting to wake up to the outrageous pay and benefits of government employees who tend to stir up the class warfare the most. The rich don't pay the salaries of the government workers. The middle class does through high local and property taxes.

DosZap's picture

His policies by Design were meant to fail.............haven't got that yet?.

mayhem_korner's picture

I've got a 100-sack of pre-'64 quarters that says Hussein loses it (publicly) within the next 6 months. 

It's gonna be something like this... 


Miss Expectations's picture

All's well that ends well.  I expected it to end like all the stuff blowing up in Needful Things.  The "Hall of the Mountain King" scene.  This will have to do:


Juan Venti's picture

Best shit I've read all week! Smiles all around =)

realitybiter's picture

The truth will set you free.


Defined benefit plans are by definition, fraudulent.  You can not define a benefit in a future which you do not know.


The corporate jet discussion is lame.  My small business went through an audit with the federales and they questioned every $100 meal.  I kid you not.  It was extortion.  I thought to myself during this process,"how can big corporations expense corporate jet flight, as if it is the same as sitting in the C section of Southwest, and I am being scrutinized over why I spent $100 on dinner?"Private jet travel is unfairly subsidized.  I have nothing against private jets.  I've used them (others paid), but the taxpayer shouldn't be stuck with the bill (expensed).  I think the reality should be a mileage deduction.  You can walk, take southwest or spend $5000 an hour in your private jet....but the deduction is the same.

It is a legitimate beef.

Given that most stocks have returned  losses the last 10 years does it really make sense to argue that CEO's time is really valuable?  They would have lost more if they had travelled coach?


On pensions.  Obviously, defining pensions as un or underfunded, points that they don't pencil.  Therefore, lets be honest and state the problem.  They were frauds.  So lets just do a simple NPV of the contributions and known returns.  Cut some checks.  Good luck.  We can do this for social security and medicare, too.  

Of course, this will never happen because those benefitting from the fraud love the truth, but only if it does no financial harm to them.  Until we rise above this, we will bitch without end and the truth will finally be felt. Via the currency.

Greece will show the way.  They will get ditched by the euro, left with their own currency, and the fraudulent pensioners will be paid in crappy greek currency.  This is not new.  It has happened many, many times.

Escapeclaws's picture

How about we eliminate the deductions for interest and taxes on the tax return? Then the money saved can be used to shore up Social Security. I bet there would even be a big surplus!

Escapeclaws's picture

Great post on social security, Bruce. I like the way you made me aware that I should get used to the taste of dog food in a humorous way! I almost didn't realize that effectively doing away with social security was the whole point.

Careless Whisper's picture

It was a mixed crowd.

Where I come from, (Manhattan), that means tops and bottoms.


Here's a pie chart for all you economics types;



LetThemEatRand's picture

I don't know whether to laugh or cry that the mainstream media has so brilliantly defined the debate in this country, that no one is suggesting the obvious -- end all of our foreign wars/occupations, dismantle the police/surveillance state (which would no longer be needed after ending all of our foreign wars, and then levy significant taxes on imports from places like China and U.S. companies that build plants there.  Give tax breaks to companies who build plants here.  It may not solve the problem completely, but it beats the debate over whether to tax jet owners or dissolve pensions for teachers.

malek's picture

If it's not complex, it cannot be a good approach.
I think even many normal people subconsciously believe that nowadays.

oldmanagain's picture

Mainstream media loves their banker.

monopoly's picture

Bruce, that was great. Kinda hard for the country to come together without the shit flying when there are so many different views on what is going down. Lets just keep watching Europe. For what occurs there is just starters for what will hit this country. With 2 or 3 exceptions the whole continent is bankrupt.

Half my kingdom to have someone like Mr. Jefferson lead us. So sad what has happened here.


Happy holiday Tyler.,

Hannibal's picture

I wonder what our US soldiers are thinking about "independence" day while occupying foreign soil. 

DosZap's picture



I am vexed as hades, that our young men and women leaving school cannot get gainful employment, and are in droves signing up to be killed, for a paycheck.

This is some pitifull shit.

QQQBall's picture

Yes, and the "poverty draft". My son just graduated from college and is headed to Graduate Skool. His buddies cannot afford grad skool and cannot get any decent jobs.

oldmanagain's picture

For those who believe that Social Security caused this mess, seems like way too many, why?  How?  Social Security created trillions in tax breaks.  Now that those who benefitted the most must pay some interest to balance the books, they hire the media to lie.  Krasting is basically a tool, a propoganda product.

Bruce Krasting's picture

So you're full of crap and don't read.

I have advocated a means test for SS for the past three years. Google me on that. That would come out of my pocket. You don't know what I believe in.

No one from the media hires me. But they read me.

By the way, SS does not create tax breaks. It is a tax on payrolls.

You sound "old" Oldmanagain. Doesn't become you.



Fred Hayek's picture

Who said anything like what you claim? People are upset that their money was ill used, that the system is not what it was supposed to be, that it's technically a ponzi scheme. That anger arises organically, naturally. It's not manufactured by anyone no matter how much you may wish it to be so.