“To those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say: Don’t be economic girlie men!” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
While writing my 2008 State of the Household financial report I got this germ of an idea that kept popping into my head: What if I agreed to let Arnold Schwarzenegger be my household CEO?
But why? Why would such a horrible thought pop into my head at all? Wouldn’t the ramifications be frightening?
As many of you probably know, Arnold was elected to be the governor of California back in 2003 and under his leadership he allowed the state legislature to spend the one-time Golden State into a fiscal hole the size of the Grand Canyon. By early 2009, the state was in debt to the tune of a staggering $42 billion!
In fact, at one point things were going so well in California that the state was paying income tax refunds with “warrants.” Unfortunately, folks intending to spend those warrants at the local Home Depot were out of luck because there was no money in the state coffers to back them up.
So what would happen? Upon further reflection here are just a few examples I came up with, prefaced with some related Arnold quotes, of course.
Let me know if you can come up with any others…
1. “I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m sure it can be solved without resorting to violence.” – from the movie Twins
One of the hardest jobs in running a household is enforcing the budget. Kids especially have a hard time accepting this little reality and at times it results in some heated discussions. But if Arnold was in charge those battles would be avoided because he would let them get everything their little hearts desired. Giving the kids what they want keeps them pacified and makes life so much easier on me and the Honeybee. Says Arnold: Of course, the household can afford it; that’s why they invented credit cards.
2. “Look at those deltoids! Look at those calves!” - Arnold to reporters on the virtues of the Hummer
The Honeybee and I would ask for and receive two brand new luxury cars that we would be allowed to trade in every couple of years for new models. The Honeybee would immediately ditch her 2001 Honda Odyssey for a Cadillac Escalade. As for me, I’d choose to ditch my 1997 Honda Civic for something like a 7 series BMW. That is until Arnold recommends the Hummer. After all, he was the proud recipient of the very first one back in 1992.
3a. “Big mistake.” – from the movie Eraser
3b. “Yes, could I speak to the drug dealer of the house, please?” - from the movie Last Action Hero
I would be allowed to move my family of four from my modest 3 bed/2.5 bath 2000 square foot home into a freshly built 4500 square foot McMansion with seven bedrooms, six baths, four-car garage and mother-in-law quarters. Since the house is brand new, we’d be permitted to go buy new furniture for every room in the house. In order to finance the furniture, we’d put almost zero down on the house, buying it with one of those flexible negative amortization loans. We’re livin’ large and life is good. But our new neighbors, knowing what I do for a living, assume the only way we can truly afford the house is through nefarious means.
4a. “My body is like breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I don’t think about it, I just have it.” – Arnold on Arnold
4b. “They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day!’ – from the movie End of Days
4c. “I eat green berets for breakfast and right now I am very hungry!” – from the movie Commando
4d. “Thank you for the cookies; I look forward to tossing them.” - from the movie Twins
We’d get take-out for dinner five days a week. And because it is important that the family also get together around the dinner table for bonding purposes, we’d hire a personal chef to cook us dinner on the other two days. Come to think of it, we’d have the chef cook us breakfast, lunch and dinner on those days. The chef would do all of his shopping only at Trader Joes, Pavillions, or one of those other high-end grocery chains because Costco and Food-for-Less are for pansies and girlie-men.
5. “..the people of California have been punished enough. From the time they get up in the morning, they go and get coffee; they’re taxed… And this goes on all day long. Tax, tax, tax, tax, tax.” – Arnold in a political ad during his 2003 run for governor
Arnold would issue an edict for us to sell the Bunn coffee maker and toss the Costco-sized Folgers sitting in the kitchen pantry. That’s because his new household strategic plan calls for anyone with a jones for java to make a run to Starbucks (in the Hummer, of course). His Starbucks strategy, based upon a just-in-time inventory paradigm used by many successful businesses, would be implemented to cut carrying costs and maximize return on investment. I learn what a barista is and how to differentiate between a grande, venti, and tall. I even stop criticizing the Honeybee for her love of caramel macchiatos.
6. “If I am not me, who the hell am I?” – from the movie Total Recall
6b. “So you cooked up a story and dropped the six of us in a meat grinder?’ – From the movie Predator
We may not be wealthy, but we are certainly playing the part! The best part is our neighbors and friends don’t even know the the difference! Or do they? Our earlier mantra of living within your means and striving for a life of financial freedom has been replaced with a complete lack of financial discipline. And why not? As long as the credit lines are open, everything is going to be fine. Never mind the fact that the debt being piled up today is dramatically lowering my future standard of living and forcing me into a life of indentured servitude.
7. “Hasta la vista, baby” - from the movie Terminator 2
With our household finances leveraged to the hilt, this classic line from Terminator 2 is perfect regarding our once-stellar credit rating.
8. “I like the color red because it’s a fire. And I see myself as always being on fire.” – Arnold on his favorite color
Why couldn’t Arnold’s favorite color be black? If it was, maybe we wouldn’t be buried in debt. Instead, our credit cards are now maxed out. The multiple car payments are a killer, and we no longer have enough money at the end of the month to cover the every day costs of just heating and cooling the McMansion. Our savings are gone. We can’t refinance because we owe more than our house is worth. We’re still putting on a great act for our friends and neighbors though. But we’re now one layoff, unforeseen expense, emergency or health incident away from becoming officially unable to pay our bills.
9. “I’ll be back.” – from the movie Terminator
Not as my household CEO you won’t, Arnold. You’ve just been terminated.
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