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How will certain ne'er-do-wells take advantage of the economic doldrums?

A few ways that people and organizations will try to use the current economic situation to their advantage:

• With gasoline prices going back down, Hummer dealers will try to lure buyers back with the sales pitch, "If the economy tanks completely, it's safer to live in a Hummer than in a Honda Civic."

• The University of Arizona will use the crisis as an excuse to raise tuition--not that they actually need an excuse. The UA faculty could decide that its members will teach for free for one year, allowing time for economic conditions to improve. The UA and the Board of Regents would then decide to raise tuition to pay for a study as to why faculty members would do such a thing.

• The Chicago White Sox will try to use the economy to get out of their lease with Tucson (that runs through 2012), claiming that moving their operation to the Valley of the Sun will save on travel costs since Phoenix and Glendale are closer to Chicago than is Tucson.

You might think that's true, but actually, Tucson is a good 10 miles closer to Chicago than either of those places. We could point that out to White Sox officials, but their response would probably be, "Yeah, but we're planning on traveling at night."

• The United States military could get picky about the people it allows in, instead of having to take people who can only spell "Army" if you spot them the spelling of a human appendage. The new Army recruiting approach will be: "Three square meals a day, and we're sure that there is some country, somewhere, that Barack Obama will be willing to attack."

• Movie theaters will offer a special deal. For $25, you can see a movie, get a small popcorn OR a small drink (but not both) and spend the night. Unfortunately, some business vulture will realize that despite the fact that people have paid good money to watch a movie, they're pretty much a captive audience, so why not make them sit through a few commercials before the movie starts? Oh, wait ...

(Do you know that after all this time, I still boo loudly every time a commercial is shown in a movie theater? It's not going to stop them from being shown, and my wife doesn't want to go to the movies with me any more, but if I don't do it, who among you will?)

• The state of Arizona, reeling from the double-whammy of a bloated budget and falling tax revenues, will hit on a crackpot scheme to use photo radar to give out speeding tickets, but will try to mollify the populace by stating that it's just to raise money and won't hurt anybody's status with their insurance companies. Oh, wait ...

• The knucklehead who lives down the street from me will probably be able to get some kind of government giveaway that will let him and his inbred family stay in the house that they never should have been allowed to occupy in the first place. This guy cornered me at the mailbox one day and gave me some sob story about how the bank was going to foreclose on them because they hadn't made a mortgage payment in three months.

Ever the good neighbor, I suggested that he might consider selling one of those ATVs that he's always (illegally) riding up and down the street at all hours of the day and night, even though he's 20 years and about 400 pounds past the limits of common decency for operating one of those things. You all know this kind of guy: He wears a T-shirt that's three sizes too small, and his gut makes you seasick even when he's standing still. I swear there must still be Potemkin villages deep inside Russia turning these people out and putting them in otherwise-respectable neighborhoods to bring down the property values. (The guy actually rides an ATV to the mailbox, and doesn't that make me the envy of all of Tucson!)

I had to ask him: Why did you buy a house when you knew you couldn't afford it? He told me that he thought that things would get better, and then he tiptoed (as best he could) up to claiming that it's the right of all Americans to own a house. (It really, really isn't.)

Then he went into this scenario where he thought the house would appreciate in value, and that right about the time the adjustable-rate mortgage was set to explode on him, he could sell the house for a profit and use the money to put a down payment on a less-expensive house in a different part of town.

There's no way he could have made that up. You just know that he heard it from some oughta-have-his-punk-ass-in-jail mortgage broker.

I just hope that when the U.S. Senate was adding all that stuff to the bailout bill to make it palatable for the House, one of the new provisions was that in order to get a re-negotiated mortgage, you have to park all your off-road vehicles for a year (preferably in Casa Grande) and get at least one T-shirt that fits.

That way, at least some good will come from all this.

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