My conversations and encounters with friends and neighbors are colored by a looming unease. One friend says a third of his savings was wiped out when the market crashed the day after the bailout collapse. Another wonders whether she can continue to keep employees at her small business. A third fears she won’t get a loan to go to graduate school. Yet another sees conspiracy everywhere and believes this whole thing is part of the con to suck us further into the Matrix. She’s incensed that people are “only starting to care because they’re afraid they’re going to lose their money.” It’s all going to collapse anyway, she says, and, furthermore, it must.
She may be right. I have little faith that the bailout is anything more than a Band-Aid placed on a deep, festering wound in our collective psyche, and it will take a lot more to heal it than $700 billion. The past 30 years have really been about turning back the New Deal. It’s been so successful that we stand at the brink of needing a new New Deal to correct the same abuses that led to that massive financial collapse and Depression. Genius.
So now that the bailout has finally passed, no one can say yet what has changed for better or worse. The day after the Dow drops below its magic 10,000 mark, I decide to invest some of my cash in mutual funds, only to see the market drop like a stone the next day. We go about our business. We watch. We wait. We fret. And we get ready to face the music. It’s been a long time coming. I hope we hear it. As Joe Biden said about the idea of a long-overdue redistribution of wealth in his debate with faux-folksy Sarah Palin, “Where I come from, they don’t call this socialism; they call it fairness.”