Friday, March 13, 2009

Chasing rainbows, falling in mud

They say we bought mountains of useless cheap crap from China. That their leadership took the dollars we paid them with and lent them back to us and created the Bubble economy that has now collapsed. They say China saw an opportunity to take advantage in the marketplace and they took it. But why did the "smart" people in charge over here let this happen? Ultimately it led to failure for the average person in both countries. Chinese people have been losing jobs in vast numbers, too.

Could it be that "the little people" in both countries were exploited?

If people in the US hadn't had credit cards and E-Z loans they would have realized sooner that their wages hadn't grown in decades. They might have been more willing to join unions and demand better pay. They wouldn't have been able to put doctor bills on their credit cards when their families got sick, or paid credit for toys at Christmas. They might have been more willing to demand more affordable healthcare and been more discerning about what they bought at Walmart and Sears and Target.

When most people borrowed against their homes they did it because the banks encouraged it. The lenders sent out little notices all the time saying "did you know you can get a home loan and use the money to buy a car, fix up your house, pay for your kid's summer camp and deduct the interest?" It all made such perfect sense to the average person.

The most basic, primal drive an adult can have is to protect one's family. And in country after country that drive has been exploited by a few cunning and sophisticated people in power. Whether you were a Polish laborer working in the UK, a Chinese peasant working in factories 50 weeks a year away from your family, a Mexican crossing the burning Arizona desert for the hope of finding a job, or an American worker living in constant fear that one catastrophic illness could put his family on the street, you were driven to do just about anything for your family.

I'm not saying Americans weren't greedy. But I do think we have to keep in mind that the Babyboomers were the first generation in history to be brainwashed on a constant, daily basis to think greed was good. Number of commercials my great-grandmother saw in her lifetime? Zero.
Number I've seen? I shudder to think.

We thought we had the highest standard of living in the world? I don't think "fake it until you make it" is a standard of living. More like a prescription for disaster.

There's something about all this that feels like a gross violation of that basic right to pursue happiness, doesn't it?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fuga da DC

Yikes! I like our President a lot and even more his wonderful wife, Michelle, but I'm getting worried about him. When he said the other day that he didn't read the financial blogs, I thought, uhoh. The implication was that people like Mish, Yves, Karl Denninger, Dan W., Krugman, Kedrosky, Jesse, and many others were all a bunch of fringe nuts with an axe to grind, and therefore not worth reading.

These are the people to trust, for crying out loud! They're smart, they understand how money things work, and best of all, they didn't help create this mess, unlike Timmy and crew - well, if he had a crew. These bloggers have varying perspectives, and I don't agree with everything they say, but these are people who not only understand what is wrong but also have some very worthy suggestions on how to fix the problems we are facing. Yeah, they may be angry at times, but that doesn't make them wrong. If anything, it shows they get it.

And if the elite advisers in Washington are so smart why does the entire country get the feeling we are in some sort of death spiral and no one is flying the plane? The other day I read that our economy was rapidly returning to 1997 levels. I think we know this plot!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009


A story I read recently about a girl named Jacqueline Saburido put life in perspective. This a picture of her before the accident.
As you can see, she was a very pretty girl. Then she was in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. You can google her name and see how the accident changed her life forever. I think she is still a beautiful girl but in a different way now. I'm in awe of her courage.

There's all this doom and gloom news these days as if the world were ending. Constant worry about a "crash". A lot of angst over the markets and mortgages and on and on. It was getting to me. I was worrying a lot how we were all going to cope.

Well, as my mother used to always say to us kids when we were acting whiny, "You don't know what real trouble is." In her young life Jacqueline Saburido has known more real trouble than most of us ever will. Yet she has carried on despite her losses. If she can do it, we can do it. We can carry on.

I'm appalled at the betrayal by our leaders and elite types. But I refuse to let myself be defined by them. They don't know squat about character and courage or even just simply how to do their jobs properly. Was that really asking too much? Apparently so. But their failure isn't our failure. This is the part where, like Jacqueline, we discover our inner resources. And we go from there.