Nineteen Cents

March 24, 2012

bank bailout

I’m proud of my accomplishment. At forty-nine, the Nordic Warrior Queen and I have finally managed to save up a few bucks. It’s not a lot, but enough for a decent used car, perhaps, or a small nest egg in case she makes good on her threats to dump me and move back to Minnesota.

That’s why I got so excited when I opened the mailbox the other day: there it was, tucked in between the Albertson’s flier and the Victoria Secret catalog—the 1099-INT STATEMENT.

My hands were trembling with anticipation. I could hardly wait to see the massive amount of interest money we’d earned last year for having scrimped and saved for so long. I ripped the envelope open and ran my finger down the page, looking for what surely must be a huge dividend.

That magical figure – where could it be among all those boxes, the fine print and legalese? Ah, there it was, at the very bottom. Holy Mackerel.

Nineteen cents!

Nineteen cents, for putting our life savings into the fiscally responsible hands of the bank, allowing them use it for whatever they saw fit: financing for small businesses, providing mortgages and car loans and credit cards so people could achieve their Great American Dreams. Creating jobs, and opportunity. And they actually paid me to do it.

Nineteen cents. Well, times are tough; I should be happy to receive .01% interest, right? It’s better than nothing. Even if they are charging 14.7% on my credit card. And so what if I have to now pay taxes on that money. That’s only fair.

I did a quick mental calculation: if I keep my money in savings for another twenty years or so, the interest might buy me a cappuccino, or a gallon of gas. Minus inflation, of course.

And then I thought: aren’t these the same people who not so long ago received $25,000,000,000 of bank bailout money from the Feds. And who, not so long after that, were reporting quarterly earnings of over $4,000,000,000? Whose CEO received a $17,000,000 bonus that same year?

I’m not bitter, really. Why should I be? After all, those bank people work hard, and keeping track of all that money—those millions and billions—must be difficult. They deserve a nice salary, and their investors deserve reasonable returns on their investments. And if the bank gets in trouble now and then, and needs a helping hand from our government, who am I to criticize?

That’s why I decided to do the right thing. I went home, set my 1099-INT statement on the kitchen counter, then went upstairs and pulled my change jar out from the back of the bedroom closet. I counted out nineteen shiny new pennies, put them in my front pocket, and headed down to the bank. They obviously need this money more than I do.

Unfortunately, they were closed by the time I got there. No problem, really, I just left my interest dividend at the front door. All nineteen cents of it, super-glued to the glass in a big $ shape.

I was happy to do it.


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