Just because you’re unemployed and facing a retirement in gut-wrenching poverty doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a vacation. Pack the Igloo with bologna sandwiches and take the kids to learn more about how we got ourselves into this mess.
1. The Museum of American Finance, New York—The nation’s only museum dedicated to “celebrating the spirit of entrepreneurship and the democratic free market.” Admission includes willing suspension of disbelief. Please check explosives at the door. And for $37, buy “Look Out Wall Street! The Stock Market Board Game,” probably the safest way to play the market these days.
2. The Hobo Museum, Britt, Iowa—Visitors learn the difference between a hobo and a bum, along with tips on evading railroad police and building a bindle. The annual Hobo Convention is held the second weekend in August. Be careful riding the rails to town, or you’ll end up in the Hobo Cemetery.
3. Wells Fargo Museum, San Francisco—On the site of the first Wells Fargo, visitors can see stagecoaches, gold nuggets, and where $25 million in bailout funds disappeared. The gift shop features various Wells Fargo goodies, but you’ll need to apply for a job if you want the Wells Fargo lavish trip to Las Vegas.
4. Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting, Omaha—Get close and personal with Warren Buffet at this year’s wild west themed meeting May 1-3. While technically, the meeting is for shareholders, tickets are for sale on Ebay for $5. Don’t miss shareholder discounts on various Berkshire Hathaway products like See’s Candy and Nebraska Furniture Mart, or the grub at Warren’s Western Cook Out. Million dollar bonus: Buffet has been known to serenade shareholders on the ukulele.
5. Australia New Zealand Banking Museum, Melbourne—See the history of banking down under through various artifacts including coins, money boxes, office machines, and, of course, fire arms. Bonus: learn about the dynamic indigenous economy before the cultural genocide of colonialism. Please wait to ask questions about predatory Chinese investments until the end of the tour.
6. Higgins Museum of National Bank Notes, Okoboji, Iowa—Thrills abound in this museum famous for the most complete state collection of National Bank Note issues every assembled. Rules: “No drooling on the bank notes. No free samples.” (I’m not making this up.) Bonus: the most complete collection of 1902 Red Seal Notes AND free admission.
7. Federal Reserve Board, Washington D.C.—what are those wacky board governors up to now? You and ten of your closest friends can find out during the screening of “The Fed Today” during the FRB tour. Highlights include the architecture of the Eccles Building and the board room. With any luck you’ll catch a glimpse of the gov’t trying to staunch the recession.
8. Iceland, North Atlantic—frozen assets and asses abound under the midnight sun this summer. The krona dropped 22 percent against the Euro and its credit has chilled. Bonus: get deals on traditional Icelandic dishes including black pudding, shark, and cured ram scrota.
9. Tent Cities, California— As we investigated back in March, the newly homeless and the old salts of poverty in America sleep side by side in illegal encampments on the outskirts of cities and beneath underpasses. With Weber grills and some nylon accomodations verging on elaborate, tent cities are the new camp-outs. Million dollar bonus: hot dogs still cheap.
10. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library, West Branch, Iowa—Why are they called Hoovervilles? During the Hoover administration, speculators were buying stocks on borrowed money. Sounds so familiar. Hoover’s boyhood home, a two-room cabin, isn’t much bigger than the tool sheds some of the newly homeless are living in at the Village of Hope. Million dollar bonus: Hooverfest, August 1, is going to rock.