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Whittling Away: Financial savvy


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

Watching the news over the past few weeks has me wondering if I followed the wrong career path during my working days. 

I chose to go into the field of education, which I have never regretted, but now I see that maybe I should have gone into the area of finance. When I retired from teaching, I was presented with a nice shiny brass school bell for my desk; it’s lovely, but with things the way they are now, I think one of those “golden parachutes” they seem to be handing out to everyone in the financial field might be more useful.

Looking back, I see that the signs of a natural aptitude in finance were apparent. As a small child, I never saved any money, spent it as fast as I could get it. If a stray quarter came my way, I spent it as soon as I could get to the nearest store. 

My tries at deficit spending were thwarted by my siblings, who were unwilling to lend me any of their allowance. I did manage to convince them that because I was the oldest, I owned the family dog. I then sold them shares so they became part owners and could have petting rights. 

I invested some of my allowance in a small brown bag of penny candy, which I purchased at Mr. Avery’s store. I then smuggled my small sack of contraband into school where on the playground, I could sell the contents for as much as a nickel apiece, thus practicing the law of supply and demand at an early age.

Having reached adulthood, I did make some investments. I even took a jaunt or two into the arena of stocks and bonds. I still have the Betamax and Edsel stock I purchased at the time.

The Princess and I have a large amount of money invested in her Beanie Baby collection. I remember standing in line for hours for the privilege of paying an outrageous sum for the newest ones to appear on the market. I haven’t checked their value lately, but they must be worth a fortune by now!

I think all of the above shows a certain natural talent in the financial area. I think I could run a large corporation into the ground with the best of them. In fact, I think I could do it better, faster and cheaper than most. 

One of the items on the news talked about a corporate head that had been on the job for three weeks and qualified for an $18 million buyout. I feel fairly confident that I could have ruined the company in under two weeks and would have only charged them $10 million. 

Another item in the news concerned a large insurance company that the government had to bail out; as soon as they got a boatload of cash from Washington, they had a $400,000 party. I bet I could have had the party for at least $10,000 less and have kept the amount spent on spa treatments down by not allowing pedicures. 

I think I would have been a natural talent had I gone into the financial world, too bad we’ll never know.

Actually, I’m really ticked off about the whole mess. Greed is an ugly word. Given the weight of gold and its aerodynamic qualities, it might be good for the country if some of these guys took their “golden parachutes” to a very high place and tried to put them to use.

Thought for the week — Exceptions always outnumber the rules.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

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