The pending health insurance bill (I mean “health” insurance bill) got me to thinking about the old conservative trope:  “you can’t solve problems by throwing money at them.”  And although I’m a liberal, for once I agree with the conservatives.  In my experience it just doesn’t work.

For example, a while back I had a problem I tried to solve this way.  One night, while quietly reading in my study, I became aware of a sound, the distinctive sound of water running through the pipes.  Where was it coming from I thought?  No one is taking a shower.  The dishwasher is off.  The begonias don’t need watering.

I let it pass until the morning, but then upon waking, there was the sound again.  This time, I thought, I have to investigate.  But after checking all the facets and all the toilets, still no answer.  Nothing running when it shouldn’t be.

Only a few weeks later, by which point I had blocked the incessant sound out of my mind, did I see the water bill.  Much higher than usual.  Now I was really concerned.  Water was running  somewhere, running up my bills, hurting the environment, maybe even undermining the very foundation of my house.  I went up and down the stairs and around the outside, until finally, I found the culprit—a small but persistent drip from one of the outdoor taps.  Time to invoke the liberal answer.

I began with a few of the bills in my wallet–ones and fives mostly.  At first it seemed to work.  The bills stuck to the tap and for a time staunched the flow.  But inevitably as they got wet they weakened and the water pushed through.  More money! I thought.  I went to the bank for a stack of ones, which I unfurled at the offending leak.  That seemed to do it.  One bill even got caught on the underside of the tap and cut off the water completely.  But once more, gradually, inevitably, the problem reappeared as the water pushed its way past the money.

“Maybe,” said my liberal neighbor to the left of my house, “the problem is you are using too many small denominations.  Think big.”  Unfortunately, neither fifties nor hundreds made any difference.  “I told you, you can’t throw money at those things,” I heard the bellow of my Trump supporting neighbor on the right side of my house.  Reluctantly, I concluded he was right.

After about an hour the plumber had fixed the leak, and I wrote him out a check for $150.00  So there you go, lesson learned.  Don’t throw money at problems.


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