Friday, April 17, 2009

Expat Living: "Broke bankers: move to Kansas"

Small Change?
Unneeded in Kansas. . .
And You Can Bank on That!
(Image from Wikipedia)

At last, another "Expat Living" article by yours truly has appeared in this morning's edition of the Korea Herald. I fear that today's column will therefore look rather familiar:
Broke bankers: move to Kansas

Despite the world's recent economic downturn, I have no wish to traffic in the dismal science. Mine is the sunny science of loquacious economics, and this being a language column, I offer manifold words of advice. These might not amount to verbal economy, but I do truly desire to help those who have suffered the most in the current economic crisis: New York bankers.

Therefore, in the disinterested interest of helping this select few of those rendered unemployed or at least insolvent by the recession that has accompanied the ongoing financial mess, I offer as free advice the following tip: Move to Kansas and take up farming.

"But," you may well protest, "I'm a New York banker who knows nothing about running a farm."

No problem. You knew nothing about running a bank either, but that ignorance never kept your confidence in check. If you can simply regain that level of ignorant arrogance, you will be well-qualified for the farm "job" that I suggest.

Here is the deal, which I shall elaborate in my ramshackle style. My "Cousin Bill," a Kansas native, was recently on one of his "Weekly Ramblings" through Kansas and vicinity, taking in the broad vistas that stretch from one grain elevator to the very next one 20 kilometers off in the majestic distance. Up close, these elevators can be quite elevating. Cousin Bill, for instance, had an elevated conversation with a local grain-elevator farmer in the town of Offerle and offers us this synopsis in his "Weekly Ramblings" newsletter:

"At an Offerle service station, I briefly talked farming awhile with a tall, lean, elderly, baseball-hatted grain-elevator farmer obviously in need of communication with someone other than a prairie dog. He advised that his farming now consisted of collecting a monthly check from the state of Kansas, that entity paying him more to idle his ground than he was making with his corn and alfalfa crops. He did tell us that the main reason Kansas did that was 'cause they found he was pumping out way too much ground water for irrigation, and said if he'd shut off the pumps they'd just pay him not to grow. He was a nice guy, interesting and would have talked for several hours if we'd had the time."

This nice, interesting farming kind of guy would undoubtedly have had a lot more fascinating things to reveal to Cousin Bill, but the important point to note here is that you need only threaten to pump ground water to irrigate your Kansas farm, and the Great State of Kansas will pay you a good money not to pump that water.

"Hold on," you may well say. "I'm already not pumping ground water in Kansas, but I haven't received any money."

Yes, that happens, so I have to ask a personal question. Have you actually threatened to pump water? I thought not. Moreover, and this is the sticking part, you need to actually have some land in Kansas, else the threat will not work. Allow me to anticipate your next objection, that you own no land in Kansas and have no money to purchase any. Well, do not let your New York state of penurious repose shut you out from your Kansas state of pecuniary reward. According to the website "Kansas Free Land" (, there's free land in Kansas:

"Several communities in Kansas are offering free land and other incentives. Our goal is to help our rural areas sustain and grow economically. We welcome you to take a look at the various communities."

Just visit "Kansas Free Land," choose your preferred isolation, settle down to the modern farming way of life, and covertly but unmistakably threaten to pump some of that precious Kansas ground water. I guarantee you that this will work if you just have the right degree of ignorant arrogance. Of course, you may have learned something about basic economics from your recent debacle, so you might need to forget some of that. You need only learn to not ask too many questions about whether this all makes any sense and just wait for the money to start rolling in to your account in a local bank (if there is one) in return for your not farming.

Technically, you will still be unemployed, but at least you'll have land, home, and cash . . . a bit like what you had before. Not quite as much money, of course, but beggars can't be choosers.

Jeffery is a professor at Ewha Womans University and can be reached through his blog Gypsy Scholar at -- Ed.
As I warned, this one will have sounded familiar. Faithful readers will also recall my more serious entry concerning Professor Jasper Kim's informative column on the forces that precipitated our current financial crisis.

I'd chat more this fine morning, but I have student debates to judge . . . and grade.

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At 11:35 AM, Blogger Malcolm Pollack said...

My goodness, Jeffery -- this could actually work!I might just give it a whirl.

I'd just have to find the part of Kansas that's closest to Wellfleet.

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You need not actually reside in Kansas, I suspect. You need only contribute to the local economy by threatening to pump water.

Jeffery Hodges

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