Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

09 August 2011

Don't Know Much About Money . . . . (Breaking Even)

I never won at the game of Monopoly
and at Life, I always
broke even,
But that is, after all,
all we really need to do,
isn't it? 
square our debts
before we die,
love our friends
and family
unselfishly, and hopefully,
receive equal love in return.

What more can we give and take
during our time on this domain?

Obviously, for a long time, some people in this world have opted to give
and take
a hell of a lot more than that.
This morning, right after I heard a brief accounting of 
yesterday's trepidatious Wall Street plummet,
NPR broadcast a story about 

Flat Line.

The juxtaposition of these two stories might cause 
a listener to conclude one of three things.
Well, actually, one might take the stance, 
Well, I have a job (trust fund, unemployment, disability, healthy retirement, etc. . . )
so this has nothing to do with me.
one might conclude one of the following three things:

1.  Sure it's bad here, but it could be worse; it could be Spain.
2.  Sure it's bad here, and hold on tight, it can get worse; look at Spain.
3. We are in a global crisis and it's not anywhere near over yet,
and it might look pretty dismal everywhere
before it ends.

I will preface the following contemplation by saying
I am NOT an Economist.
I sincerely do NOT understand Wall Street or High Finance,
and I should probably keep my mouth shut, my pen still,
and leave this type of blogging to those who really know
what they are talking about.

I should, but I won't.  After all, the economists of the world
are not doing a very good job of fixing things,
so what the heck, why shouldn't I take a stab at it?

~ * ~

My overall observation and conclusion is that this is a global crisis, and we
have to stop sticking our fingers in our ears and singing loud.   
What is happening in Spain is impacted by what happens in the USA,
and visa versa.  In other words, there are Macro forces at work
that span beyond nations.  In the 21st Century, where someone
in India can read my words seconds after I press "POST", we have to begin
thinking of things in global terms.  I suspect economists know this, and they are working
on refining equations and strategies for balancing global economies
and crises, but it's a relatively new field, and while they are probably 
silently trying to make deals and fix things, national economies are

And the suffering occurs most visibly locally.

"Locally" in this schema, can include "nationally;" however,
I'm guessing that in the next 100 years (or maybe just 50)
the notion of the sovereign nation state will lose its solvency,
and it will go the same route as feudalism, monarchy, empire
and other antiquated forms of dividing and ruling territory.

As they say in the NPR story on Spain,
it's the middle ground, the middle class, that is disappearing,
and that is, in this shifting global economic topography,
equivalent to national power.

In this emerging global economy, while the notion of nations loses relevance,
the more Micro notion of the "local" will return to currency.

Unfortunately, as the Macro has evolved as a dominant force,
the local has taken a terrific beating.  Consider this: in the USA, first
the Big Box stores put local merchants out of business; now it's interesting to note
that the Big Box stores are being conquered by online stores.

Simultaneously, it appears to me, that (for instance)
that local Mom n' Pop store with the fabulous apple butter they make
from the apples picked in their orchard is becoming more appealing
to us (in the USA in particular, though this may be true elsewhere,
as well) again, because
a.) we know those people; they lost their other job, just like we did;
b.) we know their apples and their orchard.  We used to play in it
when we were kids, and in fact, our son now helps pick those apples;
c.) we trust them;
d.) it may even help us, especially since I just invented a new form
of apple peeler made out of old tin cans that Mom n Pop
love to use -- they even sell it in their shop!

What's even better is the butter could also be sold on line,
if Mom and Pop are computer proficient.  If not,
the neighbor can send their son over and help them;
he's a whiz at computers.

My own humble solution to our current crisis, then, is simple:

Leave the messes of the world to world leaders, and

Do what you can to make sure your neighbors have jobs. 
Support their stores and talents.  This means, among other things,
that we needn't push every kid to go to college: if he's a mechanic,
celebrate his talents, take your car to him, and pay him well if he fixes it well.
If she really does fingernails well, go get your nails done!  And if that
far-sighted child with the thick glasses is really smart,
celebrate her, encourage him, educate them, 
and don't hold them back if they opt to develop their skills
someplace else.  
They will come home to you again.
They may even decide to stay home if they can see
that helping at home can ultimately
help everyone.

In this Micro-Macro vision, 
the Micro (the local) is everything you can walk to or ride a bike to,
and the Macro is everything you can find on your computer,
which is pretty much everything.

And there is a fluidity between the two.

~ * ~ * ~

Well, I suppose this is a pretty naive response to a major economic catastrophe,
but it's the meager thought I had 
while I listened to the radio this morning.
And it's not original.  Just do a Google search on "buy local"
and you'll find others who agree.

I am no fool: I know that neither I alone,
nor you alone,
nor Barack Obama alone,
nor Anyone Else alone
can save the world from Eternal Financial Damnation,
we can each try our damnedest to make sure
our neighbors and friends and family members have a roof over their heads,
and dinner tonight.

That we can do.

And I dare say if everyone took responsibility for that, well, 
perhaps we could turn this economic disaster
into lemonade

or apple butter.

After all, when it all comes right down to it,
when we reach our final moments
here in this earthly life,
we will probably be most satisfied if we each can say
we broke even.


forestwalk/laura k said...

...i've never been very political...but when i turned the tv on last week...and saw what was going seemed to me that all these government people were acting like a bunch of spoiled kids in the school yard...blah blah blah. you are so right when you say to Buy Local. if we start to buy from people in our own community...small stands; we have to start home...and let the consciousness spread...

Makropoulos said...

Thank you, Laura! What's cool, I think, is that you can Buy Local and still avoid being overtly political.