Things we can cut

December 4, 2008: 1:55 PM ET

puttersAre you aware that there was a time in American history when you could go to a restaurant, order a meal, and not receive a sprig of something inedible and obnoxiously green on your plate? Why don't we start there. People who like parsley, mache or other sheep food can order it. Total cost savings to the nation: $157 million.

We could do away immediately, as far as I'm concerned, with the paper mats they put in your car after you wash it. Total cost savings: $320 million.

Then there are the little buds they give you in case the ones they provide for your bluetooth earpiece don't fit your ear canal. Since those don't fit any better than the original ones, I'd say we could away with them altogether. Total cost savings: $65 million.

We could certainly cut immediately any executive who still has a putter and mechanical hole/ball return machine in his or her office. Total cost savings: $56.7 billion.

We could also without question do away with management consultants who direct the firing of lots of people, then charge corporations the precise amount of costs they are saving the company through those reductions in force. Total cost savings $93.6 billion.

In addition, I think most of us would embrace the total elimination of solicitations for credit cards. Total cost savings: $1.6 trillion, not counting the cost of the energy required to rip them up, dispose of them, turn them into compost, etc.

Those of us who are over 50 would probably be supportive of an immediate cut in all mail from AARP concerning various forms of insurance. I thought AARP existed to support the interests of middle-aged and older Americans, not terrorize them with constant inundations of sales debris. Total cost: $156 million.

We could cut all communications to employees from corporate headquarters reassuring people that there will be no more cuts. This would have the added benefit of cutting stories about such reassurances, impending layoffs, cutbacks and other fearsome things by more than 86%. Total monetary savings: $472 million in time, paper and effect on productivity, along with possible reductions in reporting staff dedicated solely to that function.

I'm sure there are other cuts I've missed. How much of what we eat, do and say is discretionary and could be eliminated? If we're all going to live through this derepressive stagflationary curve, we're going to have to start thinking rigorously.

By the way, all numbers in this exercise were totally fabricated. I'm sure we're all pretty comfortable with that situation by now, particularly those in the financial sector.

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