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Archive for Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pondering doom can make problems seem smaller

August 3, 2008

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Just the other day, I greeted the morning with an outlook of exuberant optimism. It was midsummer. The air was cool. The furnace of July in Kansas had yet to descend. Butterflies flitted among the flowers. Quail whistled in the tall grass. The branches of the orchard trees sagged with fruit. Bush would soon be put pasture and Barack Obama would lead us to the promised land. I raised my hands in a hallelujah gesture and cried out, "We're living in the Golden Age."

Then I picked up the paper and read a litany of catastrophe news. American house prices are falling faster that during the Depression. The U.S.A. might go bankrupt trying to save Fannie Mae. The money we spend on foreign oil represents "the largest transfer of wealth in human history." Former colossus General Motors is now worth a fraction of the company that makes Blackberry cell phones. If you'd invested in the S&P 500 10 years ago, your money would be worth nothing more today. Our prosperity turns out to be a hoax. On top of that, we have only ten years to save ourselves from extinction, according to Al Gore.

In an instant, my mood plunged from cockeyed optimism to abject despair. The sky was falling. Doomsday was closing in. The United States was going to become a Third World country. Americans would be sweeping sidewalks in the Middle East. Goodbye to sushi grade tuna in the grocery store. No more feasts of humming birds' tongues washed down by Dom Perignon. We'll all be begging for a crust of bread.

Marauders will roam the land. It will be every man for himself and dog eat dog : Dog, eat? Those words put a ghastly notion in my mind. I looked at Max, Phoebe and Oscar, my beloved hounds. Down evil thought! I sought to reassure them. "Only as a last resort," I said.

At times like this, it's comforting to remember the words of John Maynard Keynes who said, "In the end, we all die." Eventually, the sun must burn out, and earth will become a ball of ice. In that perspective, do our problems really seem that great? In the meantime, are there not abundant edible weeds in Douglas County that could sustain us?

Studies have shown that longevity is enhanced by a near-starvation diet. Unaffordable groceries may be the solution to the nation's obesity problem. Hunting and gathering might be better for our souls than conspicuous consumption. Is there really anything charming about the philosophy that says, "He who dies with the most toys wins?"

Look on the bright side of things. The government is bailing out Fannie Mae and shoring up the banks that took too many risks. Can't the government bail out us suckers who played it safe and paid our bills? The government already sent us a stimulus check. Maybe it will send us more. Thank heavens the government has an unlimited source of funds. Isn't it amazing? Where does the money come from?

Here's an upbeat thought: We still have our 500 channels. Don't let them take that away from us. And don't forget the words of Warren Buffet: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." Isn't everyone fearful today? Ergo, now is the time to be greedy, to spend money we don't have, to grab more than our share. Let's stop whining and show a little patriotism. Rack up some credit card debt. There'll never be a better time to buy a Humvee.

- George Gurley, a resident of rural Baldwin City, writes a regular column for the Journal-World.

Comments

geekin_topekan 5 years, 8 months ago

This is another one of 101's crtical analysis essays on a ljworld forum response.School will be back in session in a couple of weeks and she will take it back to the classroom.But,I dont blame her one bit for staying in practice!Idle minds are a crime against the almighty.Anaylize away 101,critical reading and rhetoric will take you far in America.And while you're at it,check my punctiation and fragmented sentences,I am terible about both.

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cato_the_elder 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, I thought that the piece might have been intended to serve as a parody of Garrison Keillor's vapid attempts at prose.

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Paul Decelles 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree Canyon. Granted today it can be difficult to tell satire from reality but this is clearly tongue in cheek. Me thinks Solutions needs to take a deep breath.Ready? Inhale slowly...feel the air passing into your body...good. Hold for 15 seconds...good. Exhale slowly and relax.See? Works every time.

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canyon_wren 5 years, 8 months ago

Solutions101--I think you might have misread the article. It surely was written "tongue-in-cheek"--at least, that was the way I interpreted it. I definitely do not think the writer was actually recommending that we "rack up the credit card debt," etc., and am confident that he more or less feels as you do.

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Solutions101 5 years, 8 months ago

"American house prices are falling faster that during the Depression."-"that" should be "than"Proofreading anyone??The real estate market is going down because it is at and was at a higher rate than necessary. If it doesn't, where does it stop? In theory, it has to level off at some point in time.It is just like any other supply-and-demand consumer item. The demand is less with an oversupply of the selling product, making the prices lower.This article does not offer any good information and was written by an ungrateful person who needs to understand the important aspect of spending money wisely. He is resentful that people are receiving government money for doing nothing and believes he deserves his share of taxpayers money (Vote Republican and you will have more control of and give less money to the government in which you disapprove how they are spending/funding of our money, i.e. the war, welfare, government jobs). How about be optimistic and grateful you are in the U.S.A. with our capitalist economy giving you an opportunity to work the job you wish and spend your money as you wish (disregarding the government withholding at least a quarter of your income)? "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."-Theodore Roosevelt

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