Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Second Sitting for the Last Supper

The newspapers and television news reports have been filled for weeks with grim economic news of all sorts and on all fronts. We've watched the stock market, flop and twitch like it was auditioning for Dancing with the Stars. I have the same relationship with the DJIA, I suspect, as a squirrel or chipmunk on the side of a road has with the passing traffic: I can only imagine what might happen to me if I lose track of where I am and where I am in relationship to this creation beyond my understanding. Our reach may have finally exceeded our grasp, if I've understood anything of all of this.

I think I've sorted out who is to blame for it, and I'm chagrined to admit it is I. I'll let that sink in for a moment before continuing. Ready? Yep, it must be me (and maybe you, too). Here's how I came to that: on a national level, we've borrowed tons of money from each other, from banks and from other countries' banks for purchases we couldn't otherwise make. The belief (a fancy word for hope) was that when we sold whatever it was we were going into debt to buy, we'd make enough money to repay whomever we'd borrowed the money from with a smidgen leftover as a prize for our own enterprise.

Somewhere the "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Home Equity Loan Today" express came off the tracks and now a lot of people who are owed a lot of money aren't sleeping well. Of course, neither are the people to whom they loaned the money. It seems some companies mapped their futures on all of this working out and assuming everyone would continue to remain one step in front of the repo man. For those in danger of losing their homes, this isn't funny at all-nor is it funny for the banks, and others, holding the mortgages on those homes since they'd prefer to remain in the money lending business rather than in the excess and unsold real estate business.

My part in all of this? I'm one of those folks who gets by. Puts a little, very little, away out of each pay packet for savings (actually I have it done automatically, because otherwise it'd never get done at all I fear) and who has enough to pay the bills and make more than the minimum payments on the credit cards. In my house we turn the dollar over at least once before we spend it and that's not a bad thing. I'm not sinking and I'm not qualifying for the Olympic Swim Team- you're probably in that same situation. (Quick tip: don't wear the Speedos. That 'banana hammock' is NOT cool; it's creepy.)

When I came home last night, I had mail from five different banks and credit card companies to include my own bank. Everyone wants to be my friend and I sorted through offers for credit cards that included one where I could put my own picture on the front (another dream fulfilled) with yet another offering me 10,000 or perhaps it was 100,000 points when I used it at Kinko's or Fed-Ex. I rarely need copies and I've never made so many copies I've paid for them with a credit card, but I appreciate the offer (I guess). A bank card offered me the chance or choice (I've forgotten which one now) to pick my payment date (I see your smile; yeah, I picked the same date you just thought of) and another allowed me to set my own interest rate, more or less. It's odd how usury never shows up in spelling bees anymore-have you noticed?

I didn't ask for any of the offers and I don't need them and I'm smart enough, finally, to realize I don't want them. I could have dropped them off at your house on my way in to work today, but I suspect you got them, too. If we play our cards (credit and otherwise) right, the recycling folks will have quite a haul on collection day, right?
"Another guru in the money /Another mantra in the mail."
-bill kenny

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