Here's a macabre hypothetical situation for you: Let's say your fabulously wealthy great aunt dies (seriously, it's hypothetical - I'm sure your great aunt is in perfect health) and leaves tons of dough to you and your 20 cousins.
Are you going to have a contest with your other cousins to see who can spend their inheritance first? If I know you, dear reader, at all, I know you'd think to yourself it would be difficult to spend the money quickly enough to win the contest because there's probably a very long waiting list for the Bugatti Veyron that you've had your eye on. And then, you'd quickly say, "No, of course not! That would be tasteless."
Which is sort of what I thought when I read in the New York Times that city and state governments are basically competing for the apparently glamorous title of First To Spend Federal Stimulus Money.
I know my analogy is a little bit off in the sense that, unlike your hypothetical great aunt, our hypothetically great nation hasn't passed away. But I find it a little strange that even one elected official thought it would be worthwhile to lay claim to "first to spend" status, let alone that men and women in government offices all over the country apparently had the same exact idea.
Like, in 30 years, are tourists going to be flocking to Missouri to see the formerly dilapidated bridge that was (maybe) the first public works project funded by the Great Stimulus of 2009? I don't think so either. How much of the stimulus money do you figure is being wasted on paying people to research and publicize this nonsense?
Awkward transition: Another organization that likes to claim superlatives is Hammacher Schlemmer, the catalog/site that purports to sell products that are "the best, the only and the unexpected." (I know "unexpected" isn't really a superlative, but whatever.)
I mention HS because I just won a $50 gift certificate from them! Wahoo!
I earned the prize through a drawing for people who respond to the company's occasional online surveys about products they're considering selling - recent surveys have been about stuff like paper shredders and dehumidifiers, but Hammacher has lots of stuff that's more exciting than that. So really, I earned it.
Back in the Chicago days, I went to their testing site a few times to be a part of consumer panels that reviewed gizmos like insulated coffee mugs and mini stereo speakers, and I got $25 gift certificates each time. I don't think I ever spent any of them, because all of the cool stuff cost way more, and I never really had much of a need for the cheaper stuff.
But now, I'm determined to put my 50 Hammacher bucks to good use. It's your vote, America. Should I get this, these or this?