Opium is my pet name for OPM – Other People’s Money. I know that it’s addictive and dangerous. I have personal friends whose lives have spiraled out of control after just trying a little bit of it. It seems harmless enough in small doses, but their experience has led me to do my very best to avoid experimenting even with recreational use of this powerful substance. But recently, I have fallen off the wagon. I share my story, hoping to help others. My name is Dr. Bastiat, and I am addicted to OPM.
I live in a very nice house on a golf course in a gated community in Hilton Head. A few months ago, we found a leak in our roof. My neighbor down the street had just replaced his roof. His estimate was $13,000, but during the repair, they found some problems with flashing and sheeting, and it ended up costing nearly $15,000. My house is a little bigger, so I was thinking of numbers close to $20,000. That would be a setback, but not enough of one to lead me to get hooked on OPM. At least, you wouldn’t think so, would you? But hear my story, dear reader, so that you do not suffer the same fate as me.
The roofer shows up, and he finds the leak. There’s a 5×5-foot area of bad shingles, plus some flashing that would need to be replaced. He figured $2,000 – maybe $3,000 if they found some other problems when they got into it. I mentioned that my neighbor got a whole new roof for five times that amount, and he just shrugged.
So he goes to my HOA. Our gated community has very restrictive rules – our mailboxes all match, and I recently got a letter from them pointing out that I needed more mulch around my landscaping. No kidding. Our neighborhood looks very nice. But the HOA rules supreme.
So he goes to my HOA and tells the lady that he needed to replace a 5×5-foot section of shingles on my roof. The lady there asked if he could match them. He said no, they don’t make that shingle anymore. And even if they did, the roof is 14 years old, and has faded some, and they wouldn’t match anyway. But he showed her samples he had found that were very, very close. He pointed out that the repair was in a valley of the roof, facing away from the road, and the new shingles were so close in color, that no one would ever notice the difference. Easy repair, and it’ll look great.
She said, “No.”
He said, “I have to fix this. His roof is leaking.”
She said “No.”
He said, “I need that in writing.”
So he comes to me with a letter stating that he was not permitted to repair my roof. I said some bad words, and he says, “Relax – the game is just beginning. Watch this.”
So he sends that letter to my home insurance company. They had already approved the $3,000 repair. He explained to the insurance company that he was not permitted to do the repair they had approved, and that the only way that he could repair this leak, and have all the shingles match, would be to replace the entire roof. Which would cost $70,000.
The insurance company approved it. They had to fix the leak.
The HOA approved it. The shingles all match, and it didn’t cost them anything.
My roofer approved it. He drives a Shelby Mustang.
My wife approved it. She got a new roof, and it didn’t cost her anything.
And here I sit, rocking back and forth in the dark, struggling with my addiction to OPM. You just can’t imagine the horror until you’ve been there yourself.
But I’ll bet that you have been there yourself, haven’t you? Don’t try to act holier than thou with me – I know you’ve dabbled in the pleasures of this drug yourself, correct? Be truthful. Maybe a little harmless experimentation in college, like a Pell Grant or something? No big deal, right? In fact, it was kind of nice, wasn’t it?
Right. I knew it. So don’t judge me.
Plus, this was just a little relapse. A long weekend, if you will.
I can quit anytime I want.
In fact, I quit now. I’ve had enough. That was it. Never again. I really mean it this time. You’ll see.
It’s just that OPM is, um… so, well, so wonderful. There. I said it. It’s wonderful. It really is.
But I don’t want any more. Nope. Not me.
The politicians continue to run for office promising more and more OPM for the masses.
And they win, and they hand out the OPM. Not just to those who really need it — they hand it out to everybody. The people are happy and content, and re-elect the politicians. And we don’t criticize, because now we’re all on the take. And after all, just a little is harmless, right? Maybe just a little more. Why not?
And the politicians keep handing it out — it doesn’t cost them anything.
And they keep getting re-elected. And on and on we go.
It’s mostly harmless, right? Why not?
This is going to be difficult to stop.
My name is Dr. Bastiat, and I’m addicted to OPM.