Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wait a Minute

If you are a regular reader or a member of my family, you know that I am a news junkie. I had kind of weaned off MSNBC after the election, but the whole AIG scandal has got me hooked again. This situation totally stymies my ability to make sense of it. How could we have gotten ourselves into this mess? For one idea, see my previous blog on this subject

Lately, I've watched totally bewildered like the rest of the modern world as Trillions…Trillions!!! of dollars are being printed and scattered like dry leaves on the world economy apparently never to be seen again. Like the rest of you, I wonder when one of those trillion dollar bills might land in my driveway alongside the morning paper. It hasn't happened yet.

The current strategy seems to be to print more money, give it to lending institutions, and encourage everyone to go further into debt as our patriotic duty to spend in order to save various institutions and businesses from demise….maybe.

What??? We’ve all dug ourselves into a hole, and they want us to keep digging? Digging for what? I know.... maybe... China! Every kid knows that if you dig deep enough, you’ll eventually get there. Only when we do get there this time, we’re most likely to going to find out that we are expected to pay up for all the junk we already bought that we didn’t really want or need.

That doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

How about we play Actions Have Consequences instead? You know how to play that don’t you? The basic rule is that once you make a choice you’re more or less stuck with it until it’s your turn to make a new choice. There are a few wild cards in the game, but not many. Some good wild cards are having your Pop give you a few dollars if you make the honor roll or finding a five in the pocket of your jeans that you haven’t worn all summer. A bad wild card might be if Auntie Jane gets Alzheimers and mails you a check for ten cents instead of ten dollars. That kind of sucks.

In Actions Have Consequences, if you decide to turn right at the corner to stop at the playground, but your brother sneaks around through the bushes, he will probably beat you home and get to eat the left over brownie on the counter. If you spend your whole Christmas Check on a Wii, you can’t also get the new tennis racquet you wanted or be able to buy Hannah Montana tickets at scalper prices.

If you want more stuff than you can afford, you have several options. You might have to wait till your next birthday or sell some cans and bottles for scrap, or maybe do a few chores for a neighbor. If that Hannah Montana concert is a few days before your birthday, maybe someone else would get the tickets for you and let you pay them back when Auntie Jane’s check comes, but you can’t get more junk until you do pay for those tickets. You also have the option of trading some of the stuff you already have to someone who might really, really want it for some cash, but sometimes no one wants what you’ve got, so that plan won’t work and you have to come up with a different one.

What if none of those options work? You talk to the other players and hope they have enough kindness in their heart to let you keep the things you really need. They can give you food or a blanket or a ride to work, but only for a while. Eventually you are going to have to do with less stuff or find work.

The truth is that anyone reading this probably has enough stuff to survive comfortably until they can find some sort of work that will make it possible to get by. I hope we'll all wake up soon and realize that we've been on a crazy drunken spending binge and know that once we sober up, life can be better than ever.


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