This Could Be Our Unraveling

“In the end, all of us are paying a price for this home mortgage crisis. And all of us will pay an even steeper price if we allow this crisis to deepen — a crisis which is unraveling homeownership, the middle class, and the American Dream itself. But if we act boldly and swiftly to arrest this downward spiral, every American will benefit.”

— President Barack Obama, in prepared remarks
about his plan to combat the U.S. home mortgage crisis.

I want to be hopeful. I want to be a “glass is half full” kind of guy. But we are already spending a trillion or so dollars, ostensibly to rejuvenate the economy, but perhaps more accurately to preserve a lifestyle, an image of what it means to middle class in America.

Unraveling the American Dream? It used to be that the American Dream was bought with blood, sweat and cash, not credit. It used to be about having a little place to call your own — nothing too fancy, mind you …

My own American Dream started to unravel that moment during my junior year at Yale when I decided to put a stereo and Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger on my Visa. Up to that point, that card had been an emergency ticket to get home to Michigan. For years after that, the card was a crutch, and the last several years have been spent painstakingly stitching that dream back together.

I don’t see anything in all this spending that changes our collective perspective on living within our means. On the contrary, it appears that government is charging up a storm so we feel confident enough to do the same.

I’m worried, friends. The best-case scenario is that the global economy turns around — which I fear will underscore the idea that we can spend our way to financial freedom. I fear we will emerge more confident than ever that the economic masters of the universe will protect us.

And that could be our unraveling …

3 thoughts on “This Could Be Our Unraveling

  1. I am remarkably old-fashioned in my distrust of debt, fast money, and banks. And the juggling of all these invisible trillions baffles me. That said, I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. And I think they might get so bad that nobody emerges confident in anything.

    But I wonder if people will learn anything. I listened to a woman on NPR complaining that she had lost thousands in a mutual fund. That stinks, yes. But she was STUNNED to hear that her money had been in stocks. “No,” she kept saying. “It was a mutual fund.” If people aren't any smarter, then it'll just happen all over again.


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