Tuesday, September 30, 2008

it's a debacle

yesterday i consumed two double lattes on an empty stomach and then didn't eat lunch. this was not good. by the time i got home, i was nauseated and shaky. and then, i flipped on the t.v. and the bad news kept pouring in--another bank being taken over, sarah palin's debacle of an interview with katie couric. we watched the house vote on the bail-out package on BBC world and then watched stocks plummet. all of that, coupled with the excess caffeine gave me fitful sleep.

it astounds me how much damage one man can do to the entire world in just eight short years. i remember after the whole debacle (that's my word for this posting, apparently) of the 2000 election with the hanging chads and the banana republic voting practices in florida, thinking, well, dubya seems harmless enough after all. perhaps a bit dumber than a box of rocks, but overall quite harmless. two wars, a couple of hurricanes, an unimaginable financial crisis, a deficit that could make a sane man insane and a melted polar ice cap later, it seems i couldn't have been more wrong.

we listened last night to an in-depth reportage just after our 9 p.m. evening news on DR1. a reporter in the US talked to a lot of ordinary people in chicago who were having mortgage-related troubles. the woman in the studio kept asking him how it could have happened? she, like many, simply couldn't get her head around it. why didn't people see that endlessly remortgaging their house with sub-prime mortgages wasn't sustainable in the long run? why didn't the banks who gave these mortgages see it? was it because they were just selling them on to the next bank, so they didn't really care whether people legitimately qualified or not? it does seem incomprehensible. and yet there are a lot of ordinary people in a whole lot of trouble.

my overwhelming feeling is one of being relieved that when husband and i met, he was tied to his army job and i was a mere graduate student, thus i came to live in his country rather than him coming to live in mine. thankfully we live in a country where the realkredit (appropriate name, now that i think about it) institutions which grant mortgages are sensibly regulated and where their employees are not dependent upon sneaking your loan through for their own livelihood. yes, house prices were a bit inflated (especially apartments in copenhagen), and that market has come down to more sensible levels over the past year or so, but you just don't hear about people sitting in a house that's now worth less than the mortgage they hold on it.

husband has this rather harsh theory that the problems in this world really started when the masses got money. prior to that, decisions were made by an elite that, for the most part, were well-educated and well-read (they being the only ones who could read, for all intents and purposes). but, the masses got money and along with it, they wanted the right to decide things. this has caused an enormous dumbing down of the world to meet a lower common denominator, rather than raising the bar and expecting that with the decision-making power should come responsibility for becoming informed and educating oneself.  case in point: sarah palin, ordinary (and i do mean ordinary) person as potential vice president.

this election is very important. but whoever wins is screwed and frankly, so is the world. i think either way, we're looking at a one-term president, because no one can possibly excel with what they're being handed by bush and his clueless crew. they got us into this mess in eight short years, but who will get us out and how long will it take? meanwhile, the world looks on in shock, as if staring at the smoking remains of a train wreck. unfortunately, it's all too real. and, as paul valéry once said, "the trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be."


Barb said...

Julie, your insight and observations are bang-on!

This disastreous, albeight historic event in the US right now is certainly sending shock waves around the world.

Will we ever recover? Watching my financial future dwindle to almost half of what we had when this started is frightening. Our plan to retire in 5 years is shot to hell.

And the financial advice "buy low, sell high". Should one buy right now, how much lower will it go?

Once again I enjoyed this thought provoking post. Barb

Amanda said...

That was just what I needed this early morning in Kansas. For some reason we in the Midwest seem to be a little more isolated from the extremes of this economy.

Perhaps because not many of us here live beyond our means, we try to live lives without extremes.

I am truly glad I live here and not in a large costal city where the effects and aftermath of this debacle will be felt for a long, long time.

robin laws said...

Thanks so much for your informed analysis of this "train wreck" we are in. There is some part of me that has not yet taken it all in. that the future for the aging (i include myself in this most definitely!) and the young is financially bleak. no matter how often i think about pulling the plug on our retirement money going into the market (safe investments seem to be a joke now) i know that in some ways it is too late. much of the damage is happening yesterday, the day before and at this very moment. i guess that is how it happens. no financial advisor in the world suggests you pull your hard earned money from their accounts and yet....

i'm rambling i know. thanks for your post julie and for listening to my rant.

tangobaby said...

Excellent post and again, seeing this whole mess from your vantage point and the perspective of those in Europe.

This mortgage thing reminds me of that Hot Potato game kids play at birthday parties, where you have to pass the potato as fast as you can and then at the end, someone gets stuck with it. So the taxpayer gets stuck with the Hot Potato, except we never even got invited to the damn party.

How did we get so dumb? I blame television for a start...but who knows, really. Our overinflated egos and ridiculous feeling of self-importance? It's discouraging because we really do have a lot to offer the world if the politicians didn't ruin it for us.