Monday, November 10, 2008

Doing It With Mirrors

What can a thousand billion dollars be worth when it issues from a ten thousand billion dollar debt? More to the point: How much will the few remaining dollars in our pockets be worth once that ungodly sum floods the market?

We're not out of the woods; we're not even moving in the right direction. Rather, we stand still, at a crossroads, so to speak, looking down a narrowing way. That is the easy way - the way to our desires. It has always been the wider road, with its endless possibilities and its wide cliffs. The cliff remains wide. The road, itself, has narrowed.

Let us understand this: There is obvious value in the buildings we live and work in, and in the land those buildings stand upon. There is value in the products that come out of those buildings, and in the services rendered when we enter them. The land upon which we grow our crops has great value. We can put our arms around these things.

What we can not put our arms around is 85 billion dollars to AIG, over 100 billion to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, 25 billion to GM, 20 to Bear Stearns, 750 billion to the bail out, 150 billion to the stimulus - we're talking real dollars, right? We have a ten trillion dollar debt, yet we can prop up these fooolish banks and failing businesses with a thousand billion dollars? Is that real money? Sounds like monopoly money to me.

Throwing money around like it's paper is no way to climb out of a financial hole. Rather, it is an attempt to buy our way out - that is, to "credit" our way out, (although "credit" is what has gotten us here.)

Trying to do it with credit is like doing it with mirrors - simply more illusion. It is like we have gone into the Fun House and have gotten lost. "Send in more clowns," we say, "and more mirrors."

There are signs that some of us are trying to make an adjustment. I hear "lay-aways" are coming back, and people are driving less - taking less joy rides and more walks. That's a start. It will take a lot more of the same - the walking, the saving, the sacrificing; the spending of "earned" dollars instead of "free" (i.e., fake) ones.

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