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The Non-Expert

Credit: Amanda Speva

American Capitalism

Experts answer what they know. The Non-Expert answers anything. This week we help a poor man figure out how to make the system work—by any means necessary.

Have a question? Need some advice? Ignored by everyone else? Send us your questions via email. The Non-Expert handles all subjects and is updated on Fridays, and is written by a member of The Morning News staff.


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Question: Dear Non-Expert,

I’m almost 30 and I make more money now then I ever had. Still, I can’t afford to buy a house and am very frustrated because my salary increases, but it never seems to make much of a difference. How can I make American Capitalism work for me; how can I get ahead and afford to buy a house without selling both of my kidneys on the black market?

Thanks for your site.

A Poor Man

Answer: Dear Poor Man,

Just sell one kidney.

OK, so I’m sort of joking. But only because you are, too. “Poor Man?” More like Bill Gates IV.

What in God’s name are you whining about, you entitled ninny? Are you not aware there are good and decent people starving all over this impoverished planet—folks who don’t have the luxury of being able to consider selling their kidneys for the fact that they had to eat their kidneys? Meanwhile you—with your cognac-dipped cigars and foie gras Big Macs—have the unmitigated audacity to complain about money, of all things?

But let’s ignore for a moment the famished, impecunious masses (as if you’d given them any prior consideration), and talk about me. Specifically: You in relation to me. By juxtaposing our current situations (we are roughly the same age), I can thoroughly convince you that you have not only made American Capitalism work for you, but that you have rendered it your indentured servant.

First, a quick breakdown:

You: You drive a BMW, possess vast knowledge of fine wines, and spend winters in your Aspen, Col., penthouse apartment overlooking some bleached arctic wonderland. You ski, golf, and compete in regattas regularly. Your natural magnetism (i.e., money) earns you quick favor in social circles. Women adore you—let’s face it, you’re rich.

Me: I work at the A&W, think two-buck Chuck is the shit, and squat in my unwitting grandmother’s attic. My leisure activities include watching television (no cable), half-assing it at the gym, and hanging around off-track betting establishments in search of hastily thrown-away winning tickets. My natural magnetism (i.e., the metal plate in my head) often makes for awkward public situations. The ladies constantly shower me with attention, too, cooing sweet nothings to me, like, “You should really work on your abs,” and “No.”

Feeling better yet?

You should be. While your offshore Cayman Islands bank accounts continue accruing enough interest to buy the Honus Wagner tobacco card, my startlingly extensive tax-evasion record is gaining the wrong kind of interest from the wrong government agency. In other words, Bill Gates IV, it’s all relative. So buck up and start acting like the baron of wealth you truly are. Kick a puppy or something.

You’ll likely need a gun at some point, if only to wave it (empty; but they don’t know that) at clients. When it comes to affordable housing, though, I concur—even more affluent members of the general population may encounter difficulties in buying a home. I’ll offer a shred of empathy. I live in California, so my chances of ever owning a home are about on par with my chances of being struck by lightning while holding a winning Lotto ticket aboard an aircraft that’s plummeting to its fiery doom while being piloted by Bruce Willis. You, on the other hand, may actually have a chance.

Still, a proverbial wad of dough does not a pizza make. (I learned this firsthand at my last job, only literally.) The dough must be stretched and massaged in order to achieve the final product. The question you have posed is: How?

Let’s start with the obvious: drugs. Drugs are an easy way to turn a dollar. I recommend starting small—a few pounds of weed, say. This will set you back a nice chunk of change, but the return on investment, you will find, is astounding.

Begin by buying a gun. You’ll likely need it at some point, if only to wave it (empty; but they don’t know that) at clients. Don’t sell more than an ounce at a time, and ideally in grams or eighths, to maximize profits. Short your clients whenever possible—this will not only save you money, but will make you seem like a bona fide, street-savvy dealer. Remember NWA’s credo: Don’t get high off your own supply. Or, try making up your own: If there’s grass on the field, it means you dropped some. Also, if you are making a delivery, be sure to show up at least three hours late with the product. Your reputation as a no-nonsense dealer will precede you, and access to more lucrative narcotics like ecstasy and horse tranquilizers will soon follow. Peddling animal opiates? You’ve hit the big time.

Maybe you would rather try something legal, I understand. Investment strategies like hedge funds and speculative buying can really bear some greenbacks, it’s true—but to me they’ve always seemed a perilous flight of fancy. Really, playing the markets is like gambling. This leads me to my next suggestion: Why not just gamble?

When we win, I only ask 65 percent. Trust me, the remaining 15 percent will be the most money you’ve ever seen at once. I’ve got a line on a horse you wouldn’t believe. Seriously, this horse is fast. He’s racing at Santa Anita in a couple weeks, so if you just want to wire me the money I’ll gladly be your “mule” and take it down there, lay it all on Phlying Phantom, and rake in our dough. (Of course, Phlying Phantom isn’t his real name—I wouldn’t just hand you over this valuable tip free of charge! When we win, I only ask 65 percent. Trust me, the remaining 15 percent will be the most money you’ve ever seen at once.) We can set up an ongoing thing if you like. You get your home, and I pay off the Rizzo brothers and get to live. Everybody wins.

Gambling, unfortunately, is not a guaranteed payoff (probably). And as far as investment goes, you have to be careful about get-rich-quick schemes. That’s why I’m looking out for you. A friend of mine is seeking partners for an upcoming joint venture in Nigeria. His name is the Honorable Dr. Malfawari—and trust me, as his title suggests, he is a good guy. Anyway, his family is in a bit of trouble (captured by the rebels behind the notorious Nigerian email sting, Scamalot), and he desperately needs to pay off these rogues and ship his loved ones out of the country to safety. For this reason only is he offering partnership in the venture for a paltry initial investment of $20,000. It is a high-risk endeavor, fraught with viral file attachments, confusing wire transfers, and messages penned with horrendous grammar, but he guarantees returns of at least $1 million to all involved. I know: You may be thinking this is a scam in itself. But, think about it: Why would I offer you the chance to come on board a situation so ridiculously dangerous and potentially lucrative? I mean, re-read what I just wrote up there—it has to be real. If you just provide me your bank account numbers, I can arrange the entire exchange. You’ll be relaxing poolside in your new backyard by Bastille Day, I can assure you.

These are my best options. If you wish to venture down other avenues, then, unfortunately, I won’t be coming along, as I shouldn’t be seen in public for more than two hours at a time with another person. If you choose drugs, good luck and be safe. I’ll await your response on the betting and Nigeria gigs, and hope to hear from you soon on those (my email is below). Also, take it from me: Don’t bother with the kidney sale; you don’t get nearly as much as you might think.