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Eric Williams Headshot

Red Ink/Black Ink

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Last week, General Motors announced second-quarter losses of $15.5 billion. For the same period, Exxon Mobil reported the best quarterly profit EVER for a corporation: $11.68 billion.

Since it's clear that the real money is in oil rather than automobiles, isn't the obvious solution for General Motors to merge with Exxon Mobil and for this new entity -- let's call them GenExx MoMo -- to give away cars for free?

All the free-car recipient would have to do is sign a contract that they will buy gas ONLY from GenExx MoMo stations, at obscenely inflated prices, for the life of the car.

Crazy talk, you say? They'd only be following the model of the cellphone industry. Heck, those nice folks hand out phones like they're Halloween candy!*

* (Just as long as you commit to paying more every month for a boatload of services and features than you would have had to pay for that piece-of-crap little giveaway phone in the first place.)

Then there's my personal favorite, the Inkjet printer business.

Prices for printers themselves have declined greatly over the years, but we're are all still forced to rush to the Office Depot teat every time our thimbleful of ink runs out.

I recently calculated that the amount I pay for the 10ml black-ink cartridge for my printer works out to a whopping $6,804 a gallon.

What the hell is this stuff made of? It's just ink! Ingredients: water and black.

We don't have to extract it from rare seal embryos or drill for it in endangered wild spaces or buy it from countries who loathe us but happen to be sitting atop the world's largest underground ink reserves.

Were overpriced ink cartridges just one of those stupid extravagances we Americans blithely thought we could afford back when the world seemed happy and affluent? You know, like Hummers and Starbucks and George W. Bush.

My only fear is that GenExx MoMo will figure out how to build a car that runs on printer ink. You'll be pining for the days when you were only paying five bucks a gallon.

And you'll know someone is really rich if you see them filling their tank with "Color".