From the February 2013 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

January 23, 2013

Post-Doomsday

If you’re reading this, congratulations, you survived. As I write this column, 2012 is quickly racing to the finish line. I’m going to make a huge leap of faith and say that the human race has survived two major extinction events in 2012 … the end of the Mayan calendar and the treacherous fiscal cliff. 

I never really bought into the whole Mayan calendar, end-of-the-world stuff. The thought of some ancient civilization looking into the future and calculating the end of the world is a little too mind-boggling for me. If a brilliant mind like mine barely makes it through a remedial math class in college (with a calculator), I doubt the Maya’s ability to calculate the end of the world from a stone hut with an abacus and a sexton. Of course, if you’re reading this article while floating in the black abyss of space, I stand corrected. 

Assuming we safely navigated our way through the end of the Mayan calendar, the fiscal cliff is our next financial Armageddon challenge. To the marketing department that came up with the term, fiscal cliff … kudos to you. I have no idea exactly what it means, but it sure sounds scary. For some reason, when I hear the term, fiscal cliff, I picture myself in a wooden barrel (with all my worldly possessions) slowly heading over Niagara Falls. Nice imagery marketing folks!

I would have loved to been at the meeting where they were brainstorming to come up with the term fiscal cliff. Do you ever wonder what some of the other suggestions were that didn’t make it? I picture a room full of seasoned gray-haired marketing execs sitting around a conference table. Immediately to their right is a Grande Starbucks cup placed neatly on a coaster.  

An old guy at the front of the room (who happens to have a ponytail), stands in front of the whiteboard with his color markers and asks, “What are we going to call this thing? We need a catchy name that everyone will know means their money is going down the toilet. What do you got for me people?”

After everyone takes a quick sip of their latte, the names start flying. Mr. Ponytail is furiously writing trying to keep up with the idea train. “Cash Commode,” shouts out one guy. How about “Septic Tsunami,” another blurts out. The name machine is in full motion! Even the new intern gets in on the fun, “How about Fiscal Fart,” he wisecracks. At this, the room bursts into giggles and high fives.

After all the coffee, Red Bull and ideas are gone, some genius in the room puts it all together, “What if we combine Currency cliff and Fiscal fart?”  After another round of giggles the intern says, “You mean Currency fart?” More giggles.

As the light goes on in Mr. Ponytail’s head, he walks over to the whiteboard and circles the word Fiscal and the word Cliff. As he nods his head up and down, the room bursts into applause. The term, fiscal cliff, is born. Call the networks. Mission accomplished. 

It’s 2013 now and time for a new beginning. Fiscal cliff is on the shelf and it is time to look forward. Who knows what lies ahead of us in this New Year? Whatever transpires, you know there will be at least one exciting new potential crisis waiting to be named.

I know the readers of this column are a creative witty bunch. Surely we can come up with some equally snappy names for these events. Don’t you think? Allow me to volunteer my services as the old man with the ponytail.

Here’s what I want you to do. Take a sip of latte and put your thinking caps on. I’m looking for predictions of possible future fiscal flatulence events for 2013. I’d love to hear your predictions and more importantly, your snappy names for them. Send your predictions to writingbill@mac.com. I’ll share the good ones with you, but obviously claim them as my own.

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