First and foremost, my thought on the greater crisis in simplest terms possible: Think of crack in the 80's. Crack infests the inner cities, flourishes, dealers get rich, junkies die, criminals kill each other, assorted dredges of society and those unfortunate enough to be in the vicinty have their lives ruined and/or ended and time marches on. The addiction and related crime move beyond the borders of the "bad" areas, however...and it becomes the War on Drugs. Problems may or may not exist until such time that they impact the right people, then they are a crisis.
Which brings us to current day. Every morning, i hear responses tinged with regret and indignity and outright rage about AIG, about Bernie Madoff. Joe Smith lost the $200k he invested and He! Demands! Justice! AIG high-level execs got fat bonuses as the ship sank and suddenly everyone from the president to the guy working in the cafe at work has an opinion on corporate finance and just how corrupt and in need of reform it all is.
I don't mean to say that this ISN'T terrible...it is. The gall of the AIG execs is stunning, and I still think many many years of jail is too easy for Madoff. But having said that...all the outraged people seem to be a bit late to the party.
Yes, these men were absolutely shameless and horrible in their greed. You know what makes them special, though? The fact that it's on the headlines this time. The fact that rich men get and stay rich by the means of greed and fraud and corporate misdeeds...How does anyone still consider this news with a straight face? But no, i hear, it's DIFFERENT. They got government funding. This is tax dollars being wasted. Again..News? Now it's recovery or stiumulus or bailout. Then it was research and development or support for the global market or tax subsidies. It will be again. Our dollars have been dumped into, as the most obvious examples, the aerospace and auto industries for as long as they've existed. When and why exactly did it go from "supporting american industry" to "descending into socialism"?
I'm not a huge Obama fan. I mean, i like the guy. I love that he seems so much like a person. someone you could actually picture yourself talking to, as opposed to, say, someone whose security phalanx would put the SS to shame. At the same time, though...He's still human. He's not going to turn water into wine. He's not gonna fix it for everyone and bring about sunnier times. I still believe wholeheartedly that for ANYONE to rise to that level of power, they're 100% bought and paid for. He is no exception. Having said that..The guy's been in office what, 2 months? The outcry i keep reading/hearing about how he's doomed us all financially is just ridiculous. I mean, conservatives are pissed that he's in power. I get that. But folks, if that's your deal, embrace it. don't pin your grandkids' debt on him, don't say he's in bed with AIG or UAW or whoever else and in cahoots to have us all working on state-run farms. Just do what the rest of us did when we found we hated the president.
Repeat after me: "I hate the president."
You have the right to, and it'd be far more credible than blaming him for everything or presenting Rush Fucking Limbaugh as the true leader of the "real america".
Back to the economy: I may hate my job at times, may curse the particular situation i'm in, but make no mistake..I consider myself very lucky. Jen & I both have secure, decent-paying jobs with a future and good benefits. That is a big deal right now. I see the reports of local businesses closing daily, and i know full well that we're fortunate. I'm not trying to say for a moment that things aren't bad.
However. I still think many of these "crises" so often howled about on the news are a) not new, and b) not the end of the world. The dotcoms boomed..then lost it. So housing markets boomed...then lost it. Each time, it just amazed me. Have we no memory of history? This is part of a pattern. It goes up, it corrects. It goes down, it recovers. While i obviously can't say this with 100% certainty, i will offer a 99% guarantee that the end is not immediately nigh.
If there's a lesson in all this...no, it's not "don't invest". Well, maybe "don't invest without care and attention", but that's not my point. If there IS a lesson, i think, or hope, that the long term moral from all this will be "it can happen to anyone". Because not being able to pay their bills and losing their home was a crisis to someone before it started to happen to the upper middle class. If america takes anything from this mess we're in when it does inevitably clear up, it's that we can't forget the least of us, because we're only as strong as they are.