You can't possibly listen to/watch/read/discuss the news without hearing about the ongoing economic meltdown we, and seemingly, the entire world is in. To hear tell, we are in a downward-spiral that is set to trump the Great Depression if we don't act quickly and cleverly.
I have really mixed emotions about this all.
I find it frightening that we have already pumped billions into the economy. This money being used to prop up banks, car manufacturers, and other institutions "too big to fail" as well as sending $300 checks to tax payers all over the country. Yet, we are now discussing another $150 Billion "infusion" into the economy. That on top of loan forgiveness, additional government insurance and backing, and interest rates so low that they are practically paying us. Oh wait, they are paying us. With our own money.
Now, I am not a "small government" type, exactly. I approve of social programs, government oversight, regulations, etc. And the upcoming Chief is the one I voted for, and with enthusiasm. But that said, I think that part of the problem is a lack of confidence in the government itself, not just a lack of confidence in the money.
The Government has become so diffuse, so nebulous, so largely opaque, that who really knows what "the government" is involved in? I mean, sure, we know about the FDA, and Congress, and the Supreme Court. We know a lot about the Secretary of the Treasury these days, and everyone knows about the CIA and FBI. But how many of us know about the Office of Health Informatics? Or about the Office of Telehealth Technology? What about the Bureau of Labor Statistics? There are hundreds, and I guess likely thousands of government entities, organizations, contractors, offices, bureaus and programs that are running all the time. Have you ever worked with a government employee? If you have, and they are not the Secret Service, you may have noticed their sense of urgency or even success is perhaps, well, different then ours.
There is certainly a lot of room for improvement in the way our government is run, but with an economic situation such as ours, somehow it seems simpler to infuse the economy with hundreds of billions (of borrowed and returned at high-interest-rates) money than to deal with the hundreds of millions of duplications, inefficiencies and leaking productivities (or even objectives?) that make up our government.
But even with all that, I think our own economic situation is perhaps being viewed just a little askew. Because the truth is this: even with all this, we still have it pretty good. Now let me just put the caveat in here RIGHT NOW that I know there are people in the US literally starving, homeless, and facing horrific times. I know that. I know that there are literally families that are being evicted with no where to go, and families that have to choose between food and shelter. That sucks and for those people, my heart goes out.
But for the rest of us: we have it pretty good. We have houses, many of us have our very own dwelling. Not an apartment, or a duplex, but a whole house. With plumbing that is reliable and provides us with clean water every time we turn it on. We have reliable electricity and likely reliable comforts, like air conditioning and heating, that we can count on. We have more clothes than we really need (literally - no one NEEDS a closet full of clothes. We just like it, and that is all there is to it), more food than we strictly need to survive, and more comforts. We have soft sheets and beds, TVs and computers, cell phones and MP3 players, lots of meat and milk and bread, and even often cookies and chips and beer, to boot.
Look at places around the world - and there are so many - where people literally live in shacks, eat only what they can grow or trade with what their neighbors can grow, wear the same clothes every single day, and walk several miles to get water to drink or bathe in. These places are still all over the world. It is not just a few villages here and there. Even in other countries of relative wealth, the average person could not dream of owning a home, or a car. Those are truly luxuries reserved for only the very wealthy.
Yes, it scares me to think that I could be out of a job, or lose all the money in my 401k. It scares me. But it scares me more to think that we have become so desensitized to the plight of our fellow humans that losing my 401k scares me more than the thousands of people who die every day from lack of clean drinking water. In 2009, that is a fate that should face no person. When you really think about it, doesn't that seem worse?