Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Sky Has Fallen... (or was that just the dollar?)

WE all know the American economy is suffering. Just how bad it's going to get is a question on everyone's mind. Turn on the news and see how long it takes for a reminder of our plight. Wait for the latest announcement of huge corporate layoffs. Listen to the terms "stimulus package" and "bail-out". Suffer through the poor attempts at poetry. Check out the Dow Jones Index. If you can make it to the end of the broadcast, kick back for the human interest story. Can they still put a happy face on their product? This is not your father's evening news (unless you are a senior citizen). The fear is palpable, no matter how well-coiffed the news anchor is. This is a bigger security story than "terrorism".

Great. Now you know the truth. We have dug ourselves a very deep hole, and it has widened into a chasm. People are gathered around its periphery, trying to determine if it will be less painful to skirt around the edges or simply dive in headfirst. There is a huge industry devoted to making sure your choice is the latter. Throw a penny into the darkness and find out when it hits bottom. Now try it with a dollar, or a trillion of them. There are hundreds of "experts" and talking heads trying to fathom the depths. Some are nearsighted, and some are the opposite. They will tell you their predictions. They will help you make an informed choice. Maybe they will push you into the darkness.

I know that the picture is far from rosy. It just seems that everyone is trying to outdo each other with their Cassandra calls. Are there going to be people dying in the streets? Will they be expiring from hunger or loss of blood? Will China or India overtake the United States and become the next superpower? Will Bin Laden proclaim his victory over the West? Will your ancestors rise out of their mouldering graves and remind you that they told you so? Will your children stare at you in mute accusation? Do they know that their destiny is one of panhandling and indentured servitude? What compromises will you have to make to feed your family, or pay your mortgage? Will you have to serve fries at McDonald's?

There's just not that much useful information available. Do you have any relatives that are old enough to remember what it was like to live during the Great Depression of the 30's? Don't you wish that you had taken the opportunity to have that little chat? Were you too busy laughing at their strange little habits? Was it the way they ate leftovers? Was it the fact that they never threw anything away? Who would live like that in a time of abundance? Maybe (in high school) you heard about what they had lived through, but it never seemed quite real enough for you, did it? What did it have to do with your life, and your grand prosperous future, and your free markets of infinite growth?

Perhaps it's time to turn off the television, and start thinking about how your life may change. It just may be a time for reassessment. What is it in your life that you cannot lose? I'm already starting to think about ways to ensure my (and my family's) well-being. And I've come to the conclusion that the corporate media isn't helping very much. It's alarmist, which probably reflects the reality of the situation, but they aren't offering much useful information. I've talked to my friends about the things they know well. I've looked at my lifestyle and thought about the things that would be possible to give up. The funny thing is that a lot of what I have cannot be depreciated along with the value of currency. I'm finding it enlightening to gain that perspective.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice merge divide, I like your insights here. My hope is that this whole mess will inspire a bit of good old fashioned VOLUNTEERISM in even the most partisan of us. May we all grow a little closer as our needs will be met not by our government - which is failing miserably, but by our good will towards each other. Since I've chosen food as my medium of barter, what will you chose?

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pick up a hoe, learn how to use a tractor and start farming. This is the core reason why we did...

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of art do you foresee? Will it be about provoking questions or answering questions or more of the same shocking reality or just maybe it could be about lifting our imaginations up and taking us beyond the dreariness of it all. JM

1:21 AM  
Blogger Ryan said...

short of packing it all up and moving to the great wide open (wish i could but it's just not feasible) freeze-dried and dehydrated foods will provide you with a good 20-30 year shelf life. worst case scenario is that, in 2029/39, you have a few meals that you saved quite a bit of money on. the above site makes it relatively easy to throw a little money at it each month.

another is:-

not much of a selection but have some good deals on the basics and send out coupon codes frequently if you sign up on their email list. The coupons make for a good deal on cases of textured vegetable protein for the vegetarians in your life.

if you got the urge to drop a wad on it then might be the way to go.

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be easier for us baby boomers who grew up with tales of the depression and parents working their way out of it. Maybe we didnt listen and maybe we were lazy and maybe common greed wins again. Be nice to your neighbor. JM

12:38 AM  
Blogger msmc1 said...

that was beautiful at the end there bud, the part about having that which cannot be depreciated along with the dollar. It may be the old hippie in me speaking, but those things have always seemed in my adult life to be the mainstay. I believe that american societies' inherent lack of community has led to this offset. this blog was brilliant.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


I don't have any plans to get out of my current career path, if that's what you mean...


The only particular art I can "foresee" is my own, and I figure on continuing for a long time.


Thanks for the tip. I've been trying to think about what would store well for awhile. Do you have any personal taste recommendations?


Regarding how easy it will be for baby boomers... I suppose it depends on the quality of their investments and their relative health. But I think that stuff matters for all of us, so...


I'm glad I got to tell you live how much I appreciated seeing a comment from you.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I was thinking about what Busby Berkley did during the last depression and I wasnt thinking about the money that would make it easier for the boomers. Will your art change and will you be more understanding of your neighbor? JM

12:04 AM  

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