Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Opinion - My thoughts on the Economy

I seldom leave my house these days, partially due to the garden, and partially due to the fact that I don’t have the $219 for enough gas to get to Lower Lake. But on the occasion that I do wander downtown for a bit of social time, it seems to me that the conversation inevitably turns to the economy (or lack there-of). The hard times aren’t just hitting the little guy – they are hitting everyone. And while the government has just gotten around to admitting we “may be” in a recession, the people are wondering if this isn’t the beginning of a depression.

I turned to the older generation to ask them if this was possible. Everyone told me no, it wasn’t, because the government had “safeguards” in place to prevent it. However, no one seemed to know exactly what those “safeguards” were. I decided to find out.

First, I called the bank, to see what they knew. Apparently the FDIC loan was a big safety measure. What that means is that if you have up to (but not over) $100,000 in a bank account and the banks go down the government will pay you your money back. Really? Our government? With what? According to them, they don’t have any money either! Let’s hope if they do have the money, they move faster than the car insurance people. And who has 100K in the bank, anyway? I don’t. I guess they could swing my $55 easily enough. But it doesn’t matter if the government can pay us back or not because the way things are going, nobody is going to have any money left in the banks to insure!

So I decided to do a search on-line. Stupidly enough, I typed in the word “depression”. After two thousand pages of websites ready to script me out on Prozac, it occurred to me to type in “Economic Depression”. Site after site showed me discussions and concerns about the situation and the word “safeguards” kept coming up, but no details. It took me a long time to dig it up and even then it wasn’t easy to figure out.

Mind you, I am far from an economist; I can’t even balance my checkbook, so bear in mind this is just what I was able to learn and only my opinion. But check this out: another “safeguard” is that they will shut down the stock market if it starts to crash. Phew! I’m feelin’ safe now! I can see where it would help major corporations, but I’m unclear on how it helps the people. Let’s see, I loose my job, as does all my family, due to our economy, so I run through the 100K in my bank account, and turn to the stock market to pull out my money. As most of the country is in the same boat, this happens all around the same time and they shut the damn thing down. So Wal Mart is safe, but I can’t get my money to feed my family. Wonderful. But no matter, because I don’t have the 100K and I don’t have any stocks. Anything else?

Then I read about a very important aspect that was put in place to protect us. It is called the Glass Stegal Act. The best I could understand was that this was designed to prevent banks from giving “frivolous” loans and mortgages and to keep them from charging exorbitant fees and interest rates. Now this one could surely protect the little guy, but oh dear, it seems this safeguard was abolished in “recent” times. Well, that went swimmingly, didn’t it? I can’t figure out if that maneuver was the result of arrogance or sheer stupidity, but the results were just super. So tell me again how we aren’t in danger of going into a depression, Mr. President? Because we are dying out here. Between the credit card companies going completely INSANE on us and everyone loosing their homes, a gallon of gas costing more than half an hour of minimum wage and a damn cucumber costing $2, I’m thinking things could be a bit better over here in Real People Land. He’s even messed up the old “Rich Get Richer” thing – they aren’t lovin’ the moment EITHER!

So, I started thinking about what I would do if I was president, and the first thing that came to my mind was the obvious – stop putting money we don’t have into this war-that’s-not-really-a-war because we are going to need it to pay off those FDIC loans. So WHAT if we look bad to other countries by up and leaving? Personally, I think we look like idiots for not! Look what is happening to the dollar! He’s got issues with Mexican people coming into this country to work? Well, he’s solved that one – in about another week the American Dollar will be worth half the Mexican Peso. WE will be going down THERE to make a living. (Let’s hope they are kinder to us then we’ve been to them!) One man’s pride is not enough justification for all this and the not-war isn’t helping. All we are doing is pissing off other oil producing countries and the prices are going up, up, up. This brought about another thing I would do if I were president, I would open up our own oil supplies for a bit. Give the country a break – cut the damn prices in half.

I asked about this. Apparently, we are “saving” our oil. Saving it? For what? A rainy day? Well, if We-the-People are having to dip into our savings just to feed ourselves, then They-the-Government might consider doing the same thing. I guess the idea is that we are using up other country’s oil first, so that when they run out they’ll have to come to us. I sure hope the other countries think to look for us under our bridges because that is where we will all be living!

Obviously, I’m not president. But I am a person in this community and I do have some ideas on how we can help each other since the government seems to be a tad remiss. First of all, if you are having trouble, don’t keep it to yourself – ask your neighbor for help. Grow food in groups. In my neighborhood we all know what the other is planting so we can share. If you have to go out of town to shop, car pool together, if your neighbor is loosing their home, open your doors, if they are hungry, share what you can. Barter for services. Give discounts to locals when possible, shop locally when that business is supporting locals (and when they aren’t, go back to the carpooling thing). Have gatherings at your homes, give people a chance to laugh and talk and eat. Reach out to each other and recognize that you are not alone. Otherwise our economic depression could easily turn into emotional depression, which leads to isolation and despair, and since half of us don’t have insurance, who is going to pay for the damn Prozac?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Christina and Scott

I've been highly remiss on posting pics in here! So, here is Christina and Scott. Great people, very eassy to be with. I could spend a whole day with them, no problem. Good thing, as I will be doing that shortly - their wedding is in May. Hang in there guys, the biggest rollercoaster ride is at the end!