Stone Soup

I’d like to talk about the economic crisis.

This Economic crisis, while crushing and frightening, is more a crisis of perceived reality. Sure, up until perhaps a year or two ago, corporations were living high on the hog, but it turns out in at least a few cases (and I hazzard to guess we’ll see more) these profits were based on illigitimate dealings. Ergo, while they may have had fun for awhile, it wasn’t in any way living honestly. And obviously, some of them are fine with that. Whatever, other than inherent disgust, I don’t really care. Yes, I care about the little guy. Trust me when I say it hits closer to home than one might think. This crisis, at least at this point, isn’t serving the function it could be serving. For example, I think a lot of us on the ground here have tightened our belts as a precaution. Unfortunately, people have lost their jobs, and are having to watch their 401K’s lose money at obscene rates. Last I checked, I was losing at a rate of 10%. This angers me only in one particular sense, that it is losing money based on speculation. Now, I know that that is what 401K’s are about, and that is how the stock market works, but I refuse to base my inhaling and exhaling on whether or not some trader farted on the floor of the Exchange. I wasn’t about to say no to a company match, but if I’ve learned one thing this year, it’s diversify, not just your portfolio. Diversify banks, insurance…hell, diversify which mattress you’re planning on stuffing it under.
Yesterday on the morning news, a reporter asked someone on Wall Street, when will know if this is a real rally? The analyst said, UNfortunately, not for awhile. Well, it will be a real rally if the traders continue to invest. Really. The free market is doing both a natural and unnatural Survival of the Fittest Spring Cleaning. Unfortunately, traders are a bunch of scared baby kitties that spook when anybody runs the vacuum cleaner, so much of the time, we have to watch them slowly crawl out from under their giant screens. That’s right. I said it. Traders are pussies. Sack up and invest. Don’t tell me to spend what little money I have on crap I don’t need. Sack up and invest. While I have problems with a free market economy, I’m aware it’s what we’ve got at the moment. Quit trying to prove a damn point and invest. No, I don’t think the banks should be lending. Why? Two reasons. 1. Overlending is partially why we are in this mess in the first place. It’s like one of two things I disagree with Obama policy. And 2. Because the debt to capital ratio right now is comparable to 1929. That’s why. Consumers don’t need more debt. We need to pay off what we have. Corporations need to invest. Trust me, if I had the capital, I would be investing a hell of a lot more. But I don’t. So I’m not going to.
For years, myself included, we bought what we couldn’t afford when we knew we couldn’t afford it and watched our friends and neighbors do it too, which for humans is a like a giant green light.
Basically it’s this, we have had a national (and global) come to Jesus meeting. So we have two choices, live on what we’ve got, or don’t and wait for this to come around again, bigger, nastier and possibly devastating.
So am I behind the stimulus? Yes. Because my paycheck is 5 bucks bigger? No. Because it might cause some private institutions to become temporarily nationalized? No, although it doesn’t make me worship the spector of Ronald Reagan and beg for salvation. I support the stimulus because we are finally investing in what we should have been investing in from the very beginning: Education and Future generations, green society, and fucking health care reform. The economy shouldn’t operate like a teenage boy having sex: Is that a status symbol or are you just happy to see me? Let’s do this like adults. Patience, my brother. There’s no one to impress.
I also know this, you don’t have to be a socialist to help a neighbor. People got through the Great Depression by helping a sister out. Even a restaurant where I used to work was famous for doling out a free meal out the back door in the 30’s. We’ll be fine if we decide we’ll be fine.
Let me tell you something else: As a Midwesterner, I’ve really been resentful of my retirement funds resting on the East Coast, my elected leaders being beholden to the South, and my pop culture being decided by the West coast. It’s the Midwest’s time to shine. We got the attitude, the ability, and a very low tolerance for bullshit. We also can make very large amounts of food and serve it potluck style. We’re gonna be okay. But only if we make it that way.

And now, I shall end my blog with a first: A Peter Paul and Mary song. Break out the guitar, let your hair down, and join hands. Most of us are children of hippies. No need to hide it.
“Tell me why you’re crying, my son
I know you’re frightened like everyone
Is it the hunger in the distance you fear?
Will it help if I stay very near? I am here.
And if you take my hand my son,
All will be well when the day is done.”

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