This economy was beginning to make me sick. My stock portfolio has lost half of the value. Dividends are now 5% of $10 instead of 5% of $20 – so my income is shredded. The identification thieves skip my trash can – there is nothing left to steal. The illness was creeping into my neurological system when I remembered the inoculation. This particular inoculation only works in America.
I was raised by children of the Great Depression. Those folks knew how to make do with what they had. After my father returned from Europe in 1945 he married my mother, found a job, had seven children, and struggled economically for thirty years. We children did not know that my parents were struggling – the house was reasonably warm, there was food on the table, and friends came over on Friday night for a game of cards around the kitchen table.
When one of the teen age boys wrecked the family car – I think that happened four times – my father would go visit his friend at the Shade Tree Garage – and he would purchase another vehicle for about $100. There were no bank loans. If my father did not have $100 then he would walk to work until he could save the money. My parents did not have credit cards. They did not even have a checking account until 1969.
In the 1950’s my mother and I would walk ‘downtown’ on payday. She had cash in her purse. We walked to the Gas Company, the Water Company, The Light and Power Company, and the Telephone Company – where my mother opened her purse and paid the bills. We stopped at the neighborhood grocery store on the way home.
So it occurs to me that the most simple inoculation against the yellow fever of con men on Wall Street and their cohorts in Washington is to keep life in perspective. I have no debt. My truck is paid for. My house is warm (a central furnace and central air conditioning is an upgrade from my past). There is food on the table. My 42 inch flat screen television is paid for. I can watch images of real poverty from around the world.
Actually, I believe my parents inoculated me against the threat of poverty – it was an unintended consequence of growing up with a frugal lifestyle. I had to do a little mental gymnastics to stimulate the inoculation – and I am not well yet – but I no longer feel the threat of impending doom.
We Americans have experienced the greatest economic, lifestyle boom in the history of man. The present economic tragedy fostered by high class con men has sunk us into the depths of despair. Each of us has to own some of the blame – we enjoyed our life, not willing to accept the unsustainable lifestyle of rising debt. But we must remember that the worst case in America is better than most of the world.
The holidays are fast approaching. This is a time when we should examine all that we have to be grateful for. Gratitude is an inoculation against all sorts of social ills.
The folks running our government need a dose of my parent’s inoculation.