When it comes to money, these are tough times in the Haire household.

They are as tough as a four-year-old piece of beef jerky.

Bizarre Food’s host Andrew Zimmern’s intestinal track.

Courtney Love’s veins.

Congressman John Boehner’s leathery skin.

Hell, it’s so bad I’ve had to start buying Coors Light.


And for a second there I thought everything was going to turn out OK. I thought I’d found a surefire way to ensure that my beer fridge — yes, I have a fridge dedicated solely to beer — would be forever stocked with the Charleston Beer Exchange’s finest. And by forever, I mean, at least until New Year’s.

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the Bill of Rights Institute announcing their annual Being an American Essay contest. Winning essays from around the country will be chosen, with each winning writer receiving $5,000. And seeing as how I’m like an award-winning columnist and all that, I figured, you know, it was easy money. The $5,000 was mine.

But it was not to be. The contest is only open to kids. Fuckers.

And that’s a shame because I had a really good essay, one that really nailed this year’s essay question: “What civic value do you believe is most essential to being an American?”

Well, I guess there’s no harm in telling you what civic value I would have written about. If your kid wants to take, they can have. Because it’s a guaranteed winner.

Here it is: The civic value that I think is most essential to being an American is … not being so doggone gullible.

Seriously. If we can all do that, the great country of ours will be much better off.

Let me give you an example of gullibility in action.

You know how the Republican Party was all anti-earmark nuts during the most recent election cycle? Of course you do. They were all talking about it. Hell, at least 25 GOP senators pledged to ban earmarks, including South Carolina’s own Jim DeMint.

Well, now it looks as if DeMint might be the only Republican in Congress who still wants to ban earmarks and that everybody else was just looking to win the votes of the Tea Party crowd.

Now, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) have decided that earmarks are A-OK and they want DeMint to stop being such a principled dick and get with the pork barrel program.

To make matters worse, it looks as if newly elected Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), the Tea Party’s boy wonder, has recently, uh, modified his opinion about earmarks. Apparently, these flip-floppers believe that some earmarks have “merit” and if they actually ban earmarks outright, then the Dems will be in charge of dolling out the dollars.

You can bet that the message that some earmarks are more equal than others will soon trickle down to the GOP’s talk radio mouthpieces. In fact, just this morning I heard Neil Boortz stating that we need to “define” exactly what an earmark is before we address any sort of pork barrel ban.

Let the heartbreak begin.