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Tatum: Roadmap to Easy Street
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Is the American Dream dead? Are the rags to riches myths just that?

Well, it depends on your definition. Personally, I’m afraid the old saw of working hard and spending wisely being the way to prosperity is, in fact, relegated to the dustbin of mythology. Maybe it never left there.

All I know is the harder I work, the less I have. In my book, whoever said, “Hard work never killed anybody” never actually engaged in such activities. 

There seems to be no end in sight, no silver lining, no pot of gold. We may even be out of rainbows, when it comes right down to it. So, like everyone else who does not wish to collapse in the traces, shoulder still jammed firmly against the wheel, I’ve decided to do something else.

After years of studying the subject, or rather, after 10 minutes of fooling around on the internet, I’ve concluded there are only three ways to get rich these days. Two of them, inheritance and lottery winnings, which are kind of two sides of the same coin, are closed to me. The first is genetically impossible, as I am not the scion of Rockerfellers. The second one is statistically impossible. As one friend of mine recently said, “I won two dollars in the lottery and didn’t even buy a ticket.”

Besides, with my luck, the odds are such that if I draw the winning digits, then seconds later I will be crushed into a welcome mat by a falling satellite.

But the third seems to have endless possibilities. In fact, having conducted extensive research on the subject -- and by extensive research I mean I spent 15 minutes surfing the internet -- I have concluded all it takes is a little creativity and some truly outrageous presentation.

I’m talking, of course, about government funded studies. It seems government funded anything falls under the same heading as modern art. That is, take a piece of paper, have your dog wet it, then name it something like “Trojan Women” and hang a six-figure price tag on it and some idiot somewhere will buy it.

Don’t believe me? Check this out.

Not too long ago, I read about a multi-million dollar government study which ran for a number of years. It ultimately concluded energy drinks could be bad for kids.

Really? Gasp! 

The conclusion Red Bull is probably not the best beverage of choice for kindergartners has great implications, the most important of which is there’s plenty of good money to be stolen from taxpayers out there. Since some of it is my money, I would consider landing such a grant to be well-deserved reimbursement more than anything else.

Another good one, done a few years back at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, was a $500,000 study to find out why chimpanzees seem to enjoy throwing food and feces at passers-by. After extensive research, including MRIs and multiple cognitive tests, scientists found out chimps with better feces throwing skills had better communications skills than other apes.

There was another good one not too long ago in which NASA was redirecting their efforts to studying Congress. I could probably get behind this idea, the search for intelligent life somewhere in Congress, if I didn’t already know how utterly impossible that actually is. On the other hand, this one is eerily augmentative of the previously mentioned Yerkes chimp study. In fact, I’m kind of wondering if some genius just renamed the chimp study -- I seriously doubt they would have to alter the content even slightly -- and with apologies to Steve Miller, just took the money and ran. 

And yet, even all this sounds like too much work, so maybe I’ll just become a pet psychologist, instead. After all, I like critters, better than most people, in fact. And I don’t think I’ll have to go to vet school. All I really have to do is call myself “Barking Freud” and be willing to look someone squarely in the eye and in a heavily affected Germanic accent say, “Your hundt ist depressed; rub his belly; that will be $250; you’re velcome.”

Hello, Easy Street.