Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Financial Smackdown?


I can't help but wonder this.

It was surprising yesterday to hear that the Bail Out package failed. My first question when I hear about these things is "how will this affect working people and poor people?" That's my primary concern. People complaining about having to pay more taxes makes no sense. People who will be affected by losing their pensions, their homes and their investments is a much bigger issue than my wallet - or yours. People who will lose their jobs, the prices that will raise by a few orders of magnitude by inflation, the "trickle down" effect of this is huge! But this is part of living in a community. Mutual responsibility for each other.

So... I supported it on that basis. It's not a partisan issue. I don't belong to any political party. It's a human issue. And, yes, it's rearranging chairs on the Titanic but it's at least a step toward preventing economic catastrophe.

Later when I thought about the failure and viewed it as a failure of culture rather than a political failure only, something even larger came to mind.

Perhaps there is major change on the horizon. If there is an economic meltdown, community will be essential. Depending on each other will be essential. The culture will have to shift in its values and way of life.

It doesn't seem the lessons were learned after Katrina. Lessons weren't learned after Gustav. Lessons weren't learned by other catastrophic events that have occurred over the past few years. It always goes back to "business as usual" without substantial change.

I'm not saying this is punishment. I don't believe that for a minute and I'm not one of those Pat Robertson types who thinks the Apocalypse is coming. The world isn't going to end tomorrow. That kind of fearmongering nonsense is just an energy sinkhole.

This is about money. And attitudes about money. Value placed on money.

It's just money. At least on the surface.

But what if this is a much larger lesson? Have you ever considered that? How would you live if you didn't have "stuff" and money to depend on? What if neighbors had to depend on each other for sustenance? What if we had to give up the idea that we are independent and autonomous in all things?

What if we all needed each other? What would change?

Now.. at the risk of pissing nearly everyone off, I'll hit "publish".


~*

21 comments:

Border Explorer said...

Oh my, time for me to say "I love you" anew, Chani. Love your conclusion! And your comment on my blog was correct: we arrived there from opposite directions. Imagine!

wheelsonthebus said...

Chani,
I think we have pretty firmly established that of the two of us, you are the optimist. I cannot imagine that we would get a message like that. I think that it will just hurt people a lot, but we will learn nothing. I wish you were right...

FranIAm said...

What Border Explorer said... piss me off? No, I am loving on you hard.

Community is essential - and much of what we see is not a political failure. Well it is- it is at the surface, but at its heart, we are in the midst of a larger and deeper issue.

I have a couple of stories to share abou this - you are inspiring me to write them Chani.

Peace my sister.

Thank you for your wisdom and your grace.

womaninawindow said...

Funny, I'm essentially a little frightened what might happen but as long as we all stay fed and clothed and warm, we'll make it, right? But mostly I'm a little giddy. A reorder needs to take place. We NEED a restructuring, a reevaluation of what is important not only in our own lives but as a society. Scared and giddy, I am.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I, too, have been contemplating a world in which the vast differences between the haves and have-nots is significantly lessened, a world in which our shared humanity is finally the order of the day because that is what is left.

Lessons that are not learned return over and over until they ARE learned. We have always needed each other, but the trappings of wealth are effective insulators against that knowledge. Perhaps in these desperate times, desperate measures were needed. When all else is stripped away, what remains is all we really need in our lives and communities.

jen said...

i consider these questions regularly and anticipate exactly this sort of shift in my small world very soon.

meno said...

i like your ideas, but i don't think the government will ever, in any way, encourage anyone to get off this hamster wheel of consumerism.

Village Farang said...

Historically around the world, when things get difficult, things get nasty. People are usually nicer when there is plenty to go around.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I would like to see this increase community and caring. And since I can't control anyone else, I guess that will have to start with me.

painted maypole said...

oh, this totally has me thinking about our whole consumer culture and how our feeling that we have a "right" to this lifestyle, and all this stuff, that we buy on CREDIT and cannot afford

and how it is THIS that has caused this downfall, this greed

flutter said...

how can it be safe to need others when they have always let you down? hypothetically. nevermind.

Dena G said...

I thought about these same questions often as I worked alongside those broken by Katrina along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Devastation evens the playing field in so many ways. Some of the people on my work teams were quite wealthy and led financially blessed lives at home. But at the end of the day, after mucking out houses or doing reconstruction work, they all gathered for dinner, tired and dirty and devoid of the designer clothes...and ate side by side with the less-blessed (financially) Katrina survivors we were serving--and you couldn't tell the difference between the servants and the served. It was beautiful. It was a community.

And it drove me to deeper study of what it means to be a "community". For me, it's absolutely right. It makes sense on so many levels. Some of my friends and I are contemplating what our next step of living as a community should be...and part of what we've discussed is moving in together and truly becoming dependent on one another in healthy ways--we all bring different strengths to the table and it could be a beautiful thing...and as we view it through the current financial issues, it seems most practical for that reason as well.

I really believe that our self-centered mindsets have hurt us WAY more than most people comprehend at this point.

Sorry...I get a little wordy sometimes when it's something I'm passionate about!

Leann said...

While I agree that the government needs to do something positive, I was against them passing the measure as it stood.

I wish it were as simple as everyone getting back to community. Unfortunately I think we're too far gone for that.

Olivia said...

I love contemplating what could happen...it's scary and happy and awe-inspiring and terrifying all at the same time.

Of course we do all need each other; we are just ignoring that and trying to get our needs met in other ways.

Sometimes I love the idea of the reset button being hit on the US and sometimes I fear it. Change, even good change, can be scary.

But this (OF COURSE) is another provocative post. And if people are pissed off, there are millions of other blogs to visit. I'm here because I enjoy each and every post!

Peace tonight,

O

Stacia said...

I just wish people would take responsibility for their own actions. If you can't afford something, don't buy it! While I think regulation needs to be better, because I do think financial institutions took advantage of uneducated people, it still comes down to personal spending decisions. I think a recession would be a great thing for our country.

MsLittlePea said...

As far as the bail out thing-- what a lot of people don't understand is it's not just about Wall Street. A lot of innocent people who had nothing to with the greed and predatory lending can lose their jobs, my husband one of them. He works for a bank so this is something I've been following closely. We live on one income and have one car. We don't own land or property, whatever happens, we're on our own. I wish this were a world where "stuff" and money didn't matter and we could depend on our neighbors but our neighbors aren't going to pay our rent. So I'm not sure if I'm ready for that kind of change, and there's not much more I can downgrade. I live in an area that's full of the HAVES in society and in my experience, they are not too concerned or even know about the have-nots.

But you have a good point Chani and a big one. This reminded me of a really scary hurricane season a couple years ago. My husband and I were totally(and surprisingly) unprepared and our neighbors really helped us out a lot. Everyone lost power and one of them had a big gas grill they let everyone use. No tv meant no news so news was spread by word of mouth- like where to get ice(ice is like crack when you have no power),who had extra batteries, who had cell phone chargers they can hook up to the car, who had a generator, who had instant coffee(of all things!) we all stuck together and it really brought our neighborhood closer. Before that none of us had done more than say hello once in a while. It made it hard for me to move away. This is something that gives me hope if there really is a meltdown.

citizen of the world said...

Maybe the melt-down is just what we ned to propel us into radical change - universal healthcare, tax reform, limits on the salaries of the ultra-rich and so on. I'd love to see it.

starrlife said...

Hmmm... stepping off of the edge that is known is always scary. But who knows what doors it might open?

Mariposa said...

Just this morning (my time) I was having a conversation with a friend...and he said, being poor is destiny just as being rich...and went on as far as why I have to keep up with an evening job when I don't need it.

I say, it's true, when we are born with what we have, that we have a choice, yet, to stay where we are and to become who we are, there we can do something. Though he is true I really don't need the job I have there are just some things he failed to see.

If I quite my job, I can still go on vacation...buy stuff I like...eat healthy food...and all, yet there are other things which I might need to stop...

I may no longer continue sponsoring children to school...and some other initiatives which I am doing...

You are so right, we need to co-exist...and though it is nice to be self-reliant, I just think it's ugly to deny our neighbors the help they need especially when we are capable and qualified to do so.

I'd rather pay taxes than be part of the unemployed stats...

slouching mom said...

i go back and forth on this, but i guess if i were forced to choose, i'd end up where emily (wheelsonthebus) did.

Amy Y said...

I wish we had a more socialist society... I think capitalism unchecked (like what we have seen here) is a bad, bad thing.

I'm glad you hit publish :)