Prince$$ America


On the rare Saturday night she doesn’t have an assignation, The Free Agent has a new steady date, CNBC’s financial boot camp show, “Prince$$”.  Host “’Till Debt Do Us Part”’s Gail Vaz-Oxlade—a realist after The Free Agent’s own heart—tackles one young attractive Canadienne, deeply in debt and deeply entitled, per week.  She is prodded over the course of an hour (two months’ filming) onto a course of financial independence.

Might I suggest that like the princesses, Congress answer the Craigslist ad to audition?

As Vaz-Oxlade explains in a promo for the show, the first order of business in reforming a princess is to call her on the carpet for her moral turpitude.  “People don’t like being told they’re deficit in their character,” she says, but until that happens, the princess is not ready to mend her ways.  Aiming right to the heart of any princess or super-committee, Vaz-Oxlade then cuts up the credit cards.  The princesses have grown up in an age where they were never called upon to limit their spending to their income, indeed, may have seemed not to be doing their patriotic duty if they weren’t consuming enough.  In lean times, credit enables the shoe closet to be restocked, the high speed rail to be laid, etc., and in boom times, well, what goes better with hair extensions than a matching SUV?

After assigning her subject the instructive task of creating a budget founded on income and needs, not wants, Vaz-Oxlade’s hawk-eye then turns to those who enable the princess—her family, friends, strangers, and who knows but sovereign nations?—who offer her credit.  All must agree that for the princess’s own good, the free ride must end.  To test their resolve, the enablers may be challenged to a group excursion to the mall, where they must resist any urge to treat the princess to a visit to the make-up counter, a college education or a prescription drug plan.  But her moral reformation does not end there, in order to earn a potential $5,000 toward her debt repayment, the princess must repay those who have been open-handed with her.  Perhaps Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor could get make a day of it and clean out China’s garage.  They could use the space since their auto ownership has increased fifty percent in the past three years.

At the end of the sixty minute morality tale, the princesses have generally done what governments from the US congress to bankrupt Jefferson County, Alabama, have not been able to do—adjust their lifestyles to the simple reality most of us take as given.  She has recognized not only her moral turpitude, but a complete dependence on others that would make Elizabeth Cady Stanton roll over in her grave.  Furthermore, after a Vaz-Oxlade roughing-up, she is left not only with a plan to repay her debt, but a plan to achieve a goal of her choice that was a mere pipe dream before she got her budget under control.  Yes, California, if you mend your ways and save a little each paycheck, you could afford that railroad someday.  But The Free Agent somehow doubts you’ll wait until then.

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