The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The REAL Budget Battle (UPDATED)

Posted on | March 31, 2011 | 11 Comments

Yeah, I know everybody’s riveted by negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over the federal budget, but what is far more urgent — at least to me, personally — is the battle over my own budget, which involves negotiations with Mrs. Other McCain.

If you think this is leading up to me asking you to hit the tip jar — hey, you know me too well. But there’s much more to the story, if you want to read it.

My wife is actually kind of impressed with me. This year, when we went to get the accountant to do our taxes, it turned out that my earnings increased pretty significantly from 2009 to 2010 — and you tip-jar hitters are a big reason why.

The past year was simply historic in terms of the amount of travel I did, a fact that didn’t really sink in until I sat down to calculate my expenses at tax time. Let’s go down the list: California (BCS Championship, Pasadena Tea Party), Massachusetts (Scott Brown election), Alabama (Rick Barber, Tim James), D.C. (CPACCPAC!), Nevada (Sarah Palin), Arizona (J.D. Hayworth, Vernon Parker), New Orleans (Southern Republican Leadership Conference), D.C. (Tax Day Tea Party), Pennsylvania (PA-12, PA-12, PA-12), Nevada (Christine O’Donnell), California (Ladd Ehlinger Jr.), Alaska (Joe Miller, Todd Palin), D.C. (9-12), Delaware (Christine O’Donnell), Massachusetts (Sean Bielat, Barney Frank, Marty Lamb), New York (Ann Marie Buerkle), Virginia (Morgan Griffith), Georgia (Ray McKinney), and finally Florida (Steve Southerland and Allen West).

Thirteen states I count there, and I’m just counting it the way I counted it at tax time: Going through my archive of articles at The American Spectator and using the datelines as a rough guide. (Easier than trying to do it with the blog archives here.) And you guys made all that possible with your contributions to the Shoe Leather Fund.

This is reader-supported journalism, and we’ve got the finest readers in the world — as I had the chance to remind Mrs. Other McCain after the accountant got through adding everything up for our taxes. Of course, the accountant also did a lot of subtracting for the expenses (alas, hitting a deer isn’t tax-deductible), but when all was said and done, the income exceeded the outgo and so, at last, the Underpants Gnome Business Plan is starting to look like a success.

Which isn’t to say that I’m lighting Cohibas with $100 bills or feeding Beluga caviar to the family dog. But if we can keep the momentum going in 2011, this bizarre experiment may yet justify all the time, labor and expense poured into it. (Remember that I spent out my 401k to fund the first year of freelance operations.) And it might even get to the point where I can start covering the cost of Web-hosting, which Smitty has been paying out-of-pocket since January 2010.

In the near term, meanwhile, our tax-time trip to the accountant produced a new budget plan for Mrs. Other McCain and me. We’ve now created a separate bank account for the blogging and freelance income. (This is to prevent “co-mingling of funds,” which the accountant says could lead to big headaches with the IRS.) And what we are going to do with that is, my business account will now pay me a twice-a-month “paycheck.”

This paycheck is a relatively modest fixed amount, transferred to our household account every two weeks, so that Mrs. Other McCain will have a reliable income to apply to our bills. And then, at the end of the month — depending on monthly income, the balance remaining in the business account and estimates of forthcoming expenses — I’m supposed to “pay myself” a monthly bonus.

Now it’s the end of March, which means it’s time for Mrs. Other McCain to cast her eyes on the bottom line and begin the process of negotiating my first monthly bonus of 2011. How much will I “pay myself”?

Which is another way of saying: How much of my blog money will I have to pay to my wife?

Perhaps you see what I’m getting at here, dear readers. If this month’s bonus is to be generous — and I think you want me to be generous toward my long-suffering wife, don’t you? — then this will require a significant reduction in the business-account balance. And so I’m going to need you guys to hit the tip jar, so I can (a) pay my wife the bonus and (b) also have enough cash reserves in the business account to fund my next road trip.

Exactly when that next road trip will begin, or where I’ll be going, I’m not sure yet. Since going all the way to Boca Raton, Fla., to end the mid-term campaign at Allen West’s Election Night victory party, I’ve been trying to limit my travel, because (a) my wife was getting fed up with me being out on the road all the time, (b) I’m still waiting for my teenage son to finish repairing the deer-damaged KIA, and (c) going into the 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign season, I foresee lots of trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, and there’s no sense burning through the Shoe Leather Fund too early in the cycle.

But the 2004 KIA Optima should finally be repaired sometime in April, and I’m itching to get back out on the road. Before that happens, however, Mrs. Other McCain is expecting that end-of-the-month bonus for March to help pay the bills, so please: Hit the freaking tip jar!

(P.S.: I’m making this post “sticky” at the top of the page while the March “Help Me Pay My Wife” Fund-Raising Drive continues — which is to say, until you guys hit the tip jar with enough cash for me to write her a decent check.)

UPDATE: March Goes Out Like a Lion.


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