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Breaking out the bell bottoms - Tom Purcell

"The wife and I have a plan to survive this lousy economy. We're breaking out our bell bottoms."

"Ah, yes, you refer to a recent article in the Financial Times by Spencer Jakab. He writes about a growing fear that America may relive the '70s."

"That's right. Slow growth, high unemployment, high inflation -- 'stagflation' is what we called it then!"

"There certainly is that fear it will happen again."

"Yeah, and with government spending out of control, housing values continuing to tank, and the dollar's value dropping faster than consumer confidence, the future isn't looking so rosy."

"These are all matters of concern."

"At least in the '70s we had a young baby-boom population entering the work force to generate taxes to pay for all the promises the government made."

"A fair point."

"Back then, seven or eight workers were paying into Social Security for every retiree. Now, as baby boomers retire, there are only 2.8 workers paying into Social Security for every retiree receiving benefits!"

"That isn't so good."

"Well, I may be an average guy, but it seems to me we have a real mess on our hands. We have to get our spending and entitlement programs under control, or we're sunk."

"But the Democrats got slaughtered in the last round of elections because they spent so much. Republicans offered up an aggressive strategy to reign spending in."

"Yeah, and the Democrats are demagoguing, as usual, and I worry that many voters won't have the stomach to do what we must do. If we don't get our affairs in order, our economy will be far worse than it was in the '70s."

"What does this have to do with bell bottoms?"

"Well, back in the '70s, people were so miserable they needed something nutty to do to take their minds off their worries. That's why they wore nutty clothing and invented disco!"

"I thought disco came out of the club scene in New York City as minority groups rebelled against the rock culture."

"Maybe that was the case in New York, but by the time it hit 'flyover country,' it was about forgetting how miserable we were."

"That is an interesting thesis."

"Think about it. The average Joe was shackled in every way. It was hard to find work, hard to find decent pay, even harder to keep up with high interest rates and the rising cost of everything. Disco gave us an out!"

"How so?"

"The nutty pants, silky shirts and gold chains made us feel silly. Dancing under the disco ball into the wee hours made us forget. And that is exactly what the wife and I are trying to do as the economy continues to stumble."

"You are reliving the disco era?"

"You better believe it. Since money is awfully tight, we went into the attic and found some of our old duds. My lime-green polyester leisure suit and white patent-leather shoes are as good as ever."

"Oh, brother."

"The wife helped me part my hair down the middle, David Cassidy-style. She wanted to try the Farrah Fawcett hair, but who can afford the electricity for the hair dryer these days?"

"Where do you dance?"

"Thankfully, the disco ball is still hanging down at the local VFW. The wife and I throw on our '70s duds and head down every weekend for 75-cent beers and dancing."

"But what about disco tunes?"

"That's the best part. Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' is still in the jukebox. We'll keep singing and dancing to it all night long until this cruddy economy finally goes away."

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.