Yeah, I said it.
Seven years ago, I had a retirement account valued at over $250K…that’s a quarter of a MILLION smackers, folks. I was sittin’ pretty. It was all in stock options of the company I worked for, and in February or so of 1999, set to give birth in May to my youngest, I cashed out a few of them and got myself completely out of debt except for my mortgage. Let me tell you – there’s NOTHING better than writing a check for $18,990 to pay off your Chevy Blazer knowing that sucker will not only clear, but that there’ll still be money in the account afterward. Talk about tingle all over, baby…
Then, within two years, my retirement account balance went to -$48,658 because the SEC found out that the president and treasurer of the corporation had been doing super-shady-shit to artificially inflate the company’s stock price. They went to jail and December of 2002, I lost my job in the last wave of layoffs that year. Shortly thereafter, the company filed bankruptcy, reorganized, got sold for a song to a competitor and is now doing business under a new name and hopefully better management.
Would it have been nice if some bailout package had been available to preserve my retirement account balance and protect it from dive-bombing the way it did? Hell yeah – but it wouldn’t have been right. Did I participate in any of the shady shit? No. I was one of those “innocent victims” we’re hearing about in the news every morning. And I feel for them, yes I do – BUT, and it’s a BIG BUT – a bailout isn’t the right answer. To preserve something that is crap to begin with is just ridiculous, and along the way you reward the perpetrators of this round of shady shit.
Would I like to have my quarter of a million bucks back? HELL TO THE YES! But you know what? Not if it meant I had to go back to that life I was living then. Going through something like that, having the proverbial rug ripped out from under you like that, sucks butt of the biggest proportion, but it’s not the end of the world. It also serves as a wake up call, teaches you what you’re made of and what’s really important to you, and in its wake, brings opportunity and hopefully some new behavior.
Face it, folks – we’re addicted to credit, addicted to oil, addicted to a lot of shit that we’re gonna have to let go of. Letting go isn’t fun, and most of us aren’t willing to do it. Most of us have to wait until it’s ripped out of our hands and then we call THAT letting go.
Is there a graceful way to transition from where we are to where we want to be? I think so. Do I know what it is? No, but I believe in the idea that a graceful way exists because I believe in things like personal accountability, personal responsibility, jumping in to help even if you didn’t cause the problem, accepting what is and being the change you want to see in the world.
What we’re experiencing now is a real life application of cause and effect. We love it when the effect is something we like…not so much when it kicks our collective asses. Having landed unceremoniously on my large part more than once in my life, I’m here to say each time I got back up on my feet, I had something better than I had before.
Do I think we should bail out Wall Street? No.
Do I think it might mean the end of a lot of things as we know them if we don’t? Yes.
But here’s the good news: a lot of things as we know them right now SUCK. Ending them might not be such a bad thing.
You do make some good points. I worry, though, about those who lose as much as you did then but are concerned about losing it now when they are too old to work in order to build anything back up, those who had “just enough” to finally retire even a few years later than they maybe could have but suddenly may see now that they really didn’t have enough. It’s scary times. I’m not for an all out bailout, but I’m not for a depression as some predict – and honestly, I don’t know if they are right or wrong. I’m educated, I read, and I can’t quite make sense of all of it or exactly what needs to be done, but I know that I can’t afford it if things go too sour. Too many are skating way too close to the edge of financial ruin, even those who have been responsible and doing what they were supposed to do. Whatever comes from this, I do hope that we learn from it because I agree that something is very broken. I’m in awe watching our own market and those of the world in reaction that all of this could be happening.
maggies mind´s last blog post..Shaken, Smoothed, Poured Over Espresso
Well put, Maggie. I worry about those people, too. Feel for them, big time.
After I posted this, I read an article about how part of the deadlock is about wanting to differentiate between the sleaze-balls like my old company’s president and treasurer, and the responsible folk who are caught in the mix…God, it’d be great if a bailout could be that precise. I have little faith that it can, just because the situation we’re facing is so mammoth, convoluted, shady to begin with and made up in good part by a bunch of securities that are financial illusions on paper. Jeez – what a mess.
I too have read many things trying to make sense of this mess. I consider myself fairly financially savvy, but we have a financial planner who positioned our funds a number of years back, so I hope our losses will be minimal. Then again, the NosePicker will be heading to college in less than two years, and I fear that the funds we set aside for his education will not be sufficient.
That blows that your retirement account is gone. At least that asshole went to prison. My parents had friends, elderly, who lost everything in the Enron debacle. I don’t know what I would do in that situation.
On the other hand, I remember when we bought our first house 25 years ago. The formula they plugged in told us we could afford “X” amount for a house, and ‘X’ would be our monthly payment. It was a CRAZY HIGH amount, and we said NO, and scaled down our price range. Honestly, I feel sorry for them and also not sorry at the same time. There is, as you mentioned, too much wanting, too much consumerism, too much living beyond their means. Christ, there are news stories all the time with people carrying more credit card debt that my mortgage!
All of this to say, that I agree with your stance.
Peggasus´s last blog post..Mediacom has Superpowers
I do not claim to understand it all myself.
The positive I see in this is it will force us to get back to the basics… maybe our families can be restored. Is it so terrible to think that we would have to spend a night in eating popcorn, while playing a board game and communicating with our family?
We might just be thankful for the dinner on our tables again.
Hey Suzanne, you’re right on. Here’s a clip from Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur that speaks to this dilemma perfectly (and offers the first cogent solutions I’ve heard yet.)
I hope they act on this! It won’t fix everything (maybe nothing can, now) — but it sure as heck beats what the “powers that be” want from we-the-people.
And hey, isn’t the power supposed to be in OUR hands anyway??? Aren’t our elected representatives supposed to s-e-r-v-e US???
Nancy Boyd´s last blog post..Flower Essences For Lyme Disease
The Federal Reserve is facing a lawsuit after it failed to comply with congressional demands for transparency and disclose the destination of at least $2 trillion dollars in bailout funds, underscoring once again the failure of top down socialism and the folly of trusting the foxes to guard the henhouse.
“The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral,” reports Bloomberg.
One of the scariest features of the Bush administration is what has been done behind closed doors and “unavailable” for public scrutiny.
No matter how many things change, this much is clear: we the people have to stay alert to make sure laws and policies are enacted, and kept firmly in place, that are truly fair and necessary — not just because someone cries the sky is falling.
Sometime, somewhere, those who caused all these messes are going to be held accountable for them.
Do the corporate executives who perpetrated this disaster really think, once they’re in jail, that the people they harmed are going to come and bail them out THEN??
I get the feeling some of them really do expect to be rescued no matter what. The party’s over. It’s time to pay up — only this time the tab is going to land where it should.
Or is that just a pipe dream? I pray we have the will to face the truth and the courage to hold those accountable who were at fault.
Oh by the way? The word “Federal” in the term Fed. Reserve doesn’t mean much; it’s not under the control of the US government, contrary to popular belief. Check it out.