The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Ain't We Got Fun

Rich Galen

Tuesday April 21, 2020

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  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ran out of money 14 days after it began. Two weeks.

  • But that was not before dozens of multi-million dollar companies with accountants and attorneys at the ready got theirs, before the mom-and-pop restaurants, barbershops and solons, small retail shops, and three- and four-person consultancies could even dig through the storage cabinets to get the paperwork organized.

  • Reminds me of that 1920s song: "Ain't We Got Fun:"
    Every morning
    Every evening
    Ain't we got fun
    Not much money
    Oh but honey
    Ain't we got fun

    In the winter in the Summer
    Don't we have fun
    Times are bum and getting bummer
    Still we have fun
    There's nothing surer
    The rich get rich and the poor get poorer
    In the meantime
    In the between time
    Ain't we got fun

  • Shake Shack made news by returning the $10 million it had received from the program. Good on them, but it is unclear whether the decision to return the money was made before or after it became known that the company, which has 180 stores and 8,000 employees,"announced transactions resulting in aggregate $150 million gross proceeds of new equity capital" late last week, according to the company's investor relations page.

  • Shake Shack isn't the only major chain to grab money meant for small businesses. According to
    "Six other chains - including Ruth's Chris, Potbelly Sandwiches, and Taco Cabana - have not indicated that they planned to return the more than $80 million they've received in Payroll Protection Program loans."

  • Not much money, oh but honey

  • The least mom-and-pop organization in Washington, DC might be the Kennedy Center. You could transport everyone at a gala opening to the massive building along the Potomac River to the Royal Albert Hall in London 100 years ago and not miss a glittering tiara.

  • The Kennedy Center was given $25 million in that PPP bill (Paycheck Protection Program) and almost immediately the NY Times reported:
    "The center announced Tuesday that it would need to furlough around 250 people, roughly 60 percent of its full-time administrative staff, in addition to more than 700 hourly and part-time employees."

  • This was a plot foisted on America's taxpayers by the Democrats who, again from The Times:
    "Democrats had defended the funding, saying the Kennedy Center provides employment for nearly 3,000 people who would be risking losses as the performing arts center canceled shows and lost revenue."

  • The article went on to say that the Kennedy Center would keep a "skeleton staff of roughly 150 people including employees in finance, marketing, development and the box office."

  • You have to wonder whether the Democrats would have had that same $25 million zeal for the institution if it were named The Reagan Center.

  • Times are bum and getting bummer

  • MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle compared the raiding of the PPP funds by major players to a wealthy family having dad drive the small Mercedes two miles to a food pantry to pick up free meals because, well, because they were free.

  • I know I sound like a 1930s union organizer from the Dust Bowl, but I am truly outraged by both the inability of the Congress to turn aside the demands of corporate lobbyists and campaign cash bundlers; and by the corporate leaders of those companies that know full well those funds were not meant for their companies.

  • My income has decrease by 83% but we're not missing any meals at Mullings Central. For starters we don't eat out as much because there's no place to go out and eat. In the past six weeks we've gotten take out from our favorite restaurant, Landini's, which made those meals special rather than the once-or-twice a week visits pre-COVID-19.

  • Five dollar Pinot Noir poured at the kitchen counter tastes just as good as the $18 per glass version served at a restaurant.

  • Home-cooked meals are stretched. Steak becomes dinner for two nights. A roast chicken on Sunday night provides at least three days of lunches. And we have enough frozen home-made Bolognese sauce to last us until well into mid-2037.

  • Gas mileage is measured, as someone said, in "gallons per month," leading to the quote on West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude at an astonishing $3.45 per barrel (for May delivery) as I type this on Tuesday morning.

  • Shirts which would have been laundered at the cleaners at $3 per are now being washed at home for pennies per load. They're permanent press from Jos. A. Banks collected during my heavy travel days and are fine for watching CNN 37 hours per day.

  • The short hand is: I'm not sure we'll go back to our pre-COVID spending, ever.

  • In the meantime
    In between time
    Ain't we got fun

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to a YouTube clip of "Ain't We Got Fun," to the Business Insider piece on major restaurant chains, and to the NY Times' piece on the Kennedy Center.

    The Mullfoto shows the traffic situation on a major street in downtown DC over the weekend.

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