An open letter to a starving child

Dear Starving Child,

I saw your picture in one of these "Feed The Children" magazine ads. It said your mother dumped you in a Sri Lankan back-alley trash heap, and that you´ve been a street urchin, begging for scraps from Bedouin traders, since you were five. And it said for two cents a day 1 could feed you. Well, I must say, I don´t know how you can live like that. I mean, what are you thinking? If I were you, I´d high-tail it home and make myself a juicy ham sandwich with some cheese on it, then I´d put it in the microwave so the cheese melts and the sandwich is nice and warm. In fact, I´d toast the bread so it has a little crunch to it.

And that brings me to why I´m writing you. I think I can offer you some basic tips on how to get along better in life. Instead of giving you a mere two cents a day, I´m going to give you a lifetime´s accumulated wisdom. You see, as a successful carpet salesman, I do all right. And I think I can share a lesson or two about getting the most out of this crazy game called life.

First of all, you´ve got to consolidate your debt. Those interest payments will kill you. I learned this one the hard way. And seeing how you don´t have a home, you should be able to pay off any high-interest loans and start putting your money into no-load mutual funds. That´s where the real growth potential is. It may not seem like much every month, but over time, you´ll be building quite a nest egg. And when you get to be my age, it´s nice to be able to pamper yourself a little bit with some of your dividends.

Like just last night, I spent over $100 on a lobster dinner. We had lobster soaked in butter, mashed potatoes with chives, and yellow squash with yogurt sauce. I´m telling you, I was so stuffed, I felt sick. I came home and vomited! It was a great meal, but 1 hate when I stuff myself. That takes the pleasure out of eating. It´s almost like I threw that $100 right into the toilet. But for a brief moment, it was heaven.

Second, living on the street is no way to build equity. For as little as $1000 down you can get a modest two- or three-bedroom home. This will not only help you build a financial future, it will help you build self-esteem. Homeowners are self-assured, productive members of society. And remember, the three most important things in real estate: location, location and location. So buy in a nice area. You´ll want to look at schools, since you´re eight years old.

You know, it occurs to me that you don´t even live in America. And I´ve got to know, what the heck are you doing living in Sri Lanka? What do they have there? Camels? Rugs? Well, 1 can tell you one thing they don´t have: 100 percent grade-A American opportunity.

America is the land of milk and honey. You can probably catch a flight here from Sri Lanka for as little as $2500 if you shop around. So what´s keeping you? Okay, I can imagine how it is: you live in a back alley and you eat garbage. And maybe you don´t have the liquid capital to outlay $2500 on a luxury-like first-class airfare to the US. Well, you can always fly coach for about a third of first-class fare, and if worst comes to worst, put it on the plastic. As long as you pay it off as quickly as you can, the interest won´t cramp your style.

Now, since you´re eating scraps from dumpsters, my guess is you could use a little shot in the arm when it comes to income. Well, maybe I´m tooting my own horn here a little bit, but have you ever considered a position in carpet sales? It´s a high-profit industry, and commissions are good nowadays. With new homes being built at a record pace all across the country, and remodelling positively going through the stratosphere, there´s never a shortage of demand for new, high-quality carpets. Thick shag, thin shag, knit, indoor, outdoor – any variety of colour.

Heck, I could take you over to the warehouse and show you some of my samples if you like. Well, I hope I´ve given you some fat to chew on. I´d like to know if I can be of any more help, so I´d appreciate it if you could write back. And FedEx it. I bet international mail takes forever.

Ned Crimwelt
Carpet Salesman

PS: I hear some editors of a South Asian magazine are going to pluck this off the internal email network of a United Nations specialised agency and flash it. So take my advice before it gets public. Use that plastic. NC.

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