You don't know about tight-fisted until you know about Hetty Green. Around the turn of the previous century, she was the country's richest woman.
Green was a lady with a well-earned reputation for making shrewd business decisions. She also walked around lower Manhattan in the same black dress, thus her nickname: "The Witch of Wall Street."
Stories of her frugality are legendary. Green traveled in an old carriage, bought broken cookies in bulk because they were less expensive, and reportedly spent half a night looking for a lost two cent stamp.
But the most extreme example of her pathological stinginess relates to her son. Read this excerpt from a 2004 Forbes article about Green:
Her peers had mansions on Fifth Avenue; she lived in rented flats in Hoboken and Brooklyn. For lunch she ate oatmeal warmed over the radiator in her office. When her son, Ned, injured his leg sledding, Hetty economized on treatment. The leg later was cut off.
When Green died in 1916, she was worth $1.7 billion (in today's dollars).
Few of us would take penny-pinching to such extremes, even in tough economic times.
Yet many households in recent years have needed to cut back.
And after four years of economic "recovery," many state and local government budgets are in tatters.
Public education has been especially hard hit by cut backs.
Consider a June 12 Associated Press photo, which shows three children delivering "letters written by Philadelphia public school students to the office of Gov. Tom Corbett as part of an effort organized by education groups to secure enough state aid to head off nearly 3,800 layoffs in the state’s largest school district."
A June 13 MSNBC article also notes:
State and municipal governments across the country have been strip-mining their school districts in an attempt to defray budget deficits. In Michigan, an entire school district temporarily shut down due to lack of funds, while another fired all of its teachers. In Illinois, Chicago’s school board voted to “consolidate” its resources by permanently shuttering 50 schools.
And now it’s Pennsylvania’s turn. There the school district is moving forward with plans to lay off some 3,783 education professionals and scrap 23 schools as part of a plan to reduce its $304 million deficit.
Robert Prechter has long warned about the effects of a deflationary trend.
The ocean of money required to run the union-bloated, administration-stultified public school systems will be unavailable in a depression. School districts will have to adopt cost-cutting measures, and most of them will result in even worse service. Encourage low-cost free-market solutions, which will benefit both children and teachers.
Conquer the Crash, second edition, p. 257