Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Double Down

It has been my practice, until now, to avoid writing about politics because the subject is so volatile and the effect of writing about it so negligible that it made no sense to waste even a moment or a keystroke on it.

But $700 Billion dollars?

Common sense tells you that the treasury secretary's generous offer to bail out a few bloated investment firms is low, so the final total is going to be well over a trillion dollars. So, to paraphrase Sen. Dirsken's famous quote, 'we are talking about real money' and it's got me good and mad.

I am mad because I have worked two jobs for my entire working life. I've paid my bills. My mortgage isn't in jeapordy because I paid it this month. And I paid it last month. Oh, and I have enough to pay it next month, too. How, you ask? How is it even possible, in these troubled times, that I have not managed to sign a mortgage I can't pay?

It's this damn double negative, the Bush double-speak that has it all backward.

Bankruptcy is not prosperity. Five millions dollars is not middle class.

War is not peace.

Let's get it straight. The reason I am not worried about losing my house today is because I signed a mortgage that I knew I could pay. It just took a bit of planning.

Lack of planning. This is, quite simply, what has happened to all these people who are unable or simply unwilling to pay their mortgage payments today. They made no plans that included a downturn in their income or the economy at large. In their lifetimes, thanks in part to Bill Clinton, they have only known prosperity. People were being paid large sums of money for invisible, and, it turns out, untappable 'human resources'.

For example, just a couple of years ago, fresh out of an Ivy League college with a B.S. in engineering, a young graduate could expect to start as a Vice-President of an investment firm for no less than a six-figure salary. The fact that the investment firm might have overvalued their talent never occurred to them. No, it seems that the financial folly of such an arrangement was not obvious to anyone who was not already perplexed about this situation.

Why? The backwardness of the logic was only confounded by double-think. What seemed the investment bankers to be evidence of good fortune and a rising economy was in reality proof of poor judgment and a harbinger of failure based on hubris and greed

Right now, though, I have no sympathy for the many overvalued portfolio managers, investment bankers and brokers and fee-charging middlemen who took all that cheap cash and thought they could somehow launder it in the form of expensive lifestyles based on sheer consumerism. Why should I pay for their lack of common sense, for their failure to plan?

A colleague of mine once had on her desk a small sign that read: 'A failure to plan on your part does not constitute a crisis on my part.'

Even if it doesn't cost me anything directly--which I know not to be true--it is the violation of the principle of moderation that I have held as central to my character my entire adult life that makes me so angry about this today. I say: Let 'em fall, let 'em fail. I'm ready for tough times. My house is in order.

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