If I am not the dumbest person in the world, I must be in the top (bottom) 10. The plan several years ago, if you can believe it now, was to buy a chunk of land in Florida, turn it over in a few years, pay off the mortgage on Cobb Manor, and live rent-free like Bernie Madoff.


From the very second I purchased the land just north of Weekie Wachee (I should have known), the Florida land boom, then the national economy collapsed. I don’t think it was all my fault, but you never know.

All of this has been gloriously chronicled by The New Yorker magazine in an article called, painfully, “The Ponzi State.”

The article concentrated on the area north of Tampa on Route 54 in Pasco County. Guess where my land is? They called the area “boombergs” when developers bought chunks of land, marked them up into quarter-acre lots and sold them to ice-chapped New Englanders.

Pasco County, which had a population of 20,000 in 1950, exploded to 500,000 last year. The boom, by the middle of this decade “was bigger and gaudier than anything the state has ever seen,” according to George Packer, who penned the New Yorker article.

Florida officials were building a school and a huge grocery store in my new neighborhood, expecting that growth to continue forever.

In the midst of the gaudy boom, The Tampa Tribune newspaper trumpeted “Buy land, buy a house, buy a rental property, but buy something!” So I did.

Pasco County has informed me, by a tax bill, that the valuation of my meager patch has now dropped by a little more than 50 percent since I bought it.

Now, they don’t call them “boombergs” anymore. The term has become “ghost subdivisions.”

Florida Mark who took the plunge with me (he bought two lots, which makes him twice as dumb) says repeatedly, “You know it will come back some day. The problem is that you and I will be long gone.”

He’s a big help.

For every action, there is a reaction, right? Out of the blue, I get a letter from Progress Energy Florida. You will not believe this, but PEF is planning a new major power line, right across my piece of Florida. They would like to know if I am willing to sell.

Well, maybe.

Naturally, I will spend the month of March watching my beloved Red Sox in the Florida sun. This year we have rented a sumptuous condo in Lehigh Acres, just west of Fort Myers, where the ballpark is located.

Well, it just so happens that the New Yorker article has described Lehigh Acres, Fort Myers and Cape Coral as “the epicenter of everything that’s bad in America.” There are not only bus tours of foreclosures, there are now boat tours of the lost homes and properties. Latest statistics state that 12 percent of all properties in the area have been foreclosed and there is no end in sight.

The current rumor (I have heard it from a dozen people) is that you can get a $300,000 condo on the canals in Cape Coral for about $30,000 cash.

Here’s the new plan.

I take the money from the power company for my land up north, and invest it in a winter home within walking distance of the ball park.

What do you think?

I told you that I was in the top (bottom) 10.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.