Please define: fat cat

The President and I have very different definitions of the label 'fat cat.' What's yours?

By Jim Van Meerten Dec 18, 2009 2:22PM

Maybe I read too much between the lines when I see political sound bites, but I know that the words are well chosen and should have been vetted by several aides before being given to the President.

Recently he said that fat cat bankers didn't deserve their big bonuses. He also said that his new job bill would make it so that every person who "wanted" to work could find a job.

Am I wrong to ask why he didn't say that his job bill would provide a job for every "able bodied" person? What's with this "wanting" to work? Everyone between 21 and 62 needs to work.

I know that people dwell on the unemployment figures but at the same time we also have 12 million - 20 million undocumented workers who are doing something unheard of: working!

There are actually some unfilled jobs out there. Not enough to employ everyone, but lots of jobs go unfilled because "it's just not my cup of tea". Remember when President Fox of Mexico took heat because he said Mexicans were not taking away jobs from Americans, they were working at jobs Americans wouldn't take. Was he wrong?

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans I remember a newscaster interviewing a woman who was just informed that the public housing project she lived in was destroyed and she couldn't return. She was crying and she didn't know what to do. She said: "How will I get by? I was born in that project, raised my babies and grandbabies there. What can I do?"

Four generations in public housing?

Recently, our school board announced that they were starting a new alternative high school for students between the ages of 18 and 22 who were still freshmen.

They had to open this school because conventional schooling didn't meet the needs of these students. Did anyone ever consider that these kids weren't meeting the needs of the rest of us? Most of these kids hadn't shown up enough days to learn anything.

My county will admit to a 45% high school drop out rate. If I take the number of kids in eighth grade and compare that to the number of kids graduating from high school, the figure is way above a 50% drop out rate.

I am all for public assistance to the aged, mentally, physically or medically disadvantaged but not welfare for the able bodied.

My definition of a Fat Cat is not the overachiever who shows up to work every day, has a job that's a passion, works 12 -14 hours a day, is ultra productive and might get a big bonus.

My Fat Cat is the person who is of sound mind and body who opts out of productive work or education but at the end of the day expects to get a handout anyway. Everyone deserves an opportunity to work but only those who work deserve a paycheck.

I agree that our country is not spreading its fruits and wealth as it should. But I'd rather concentrate on making underproductive members of society do their fair share. If you are able and won't work, don't expect a handout. If we take the money we now give out in public assistance and make sure only the deserving get it, there would be a larger piece of the pie for the needy. The disadvantaged don't need to share their assistance with those who aren't disadvantaged.

I'm still trying to figure out why our President feels only those who "want" to work are the only ones who need to work. Please help me out on my confusion.

Jim Van Meerten is an investor who writes on financial matters here and on Financial Tides. Please leave a comment below or email

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