I live in the idyllic setting of northern New England, where crystal clear bodies of water and serpentine rivers rest beneath snow-capped mountain peaks and dense forests.  This setting, of course, brings all kinds of tourists to the area, and the particular region in which I reside enjoys a certain year-round tourist appeal – skiing in the winter; hiking, boating, etc. in the spring and summer; leaf peeping in the fall.  But the one tourist-driven activity that seems to dominate all others is shopping – shop ’til you freakin’ drop!  In neighboring New Hampshire, where there is no sales tax, villages swell with the sprawl of outlet stores, strip malls, five and dimes, T-shirt emporiums, and all other assortment of purveyors of “stuff”.

While driving through one such town in New Hampshire recently, I was struck by the existence of a store called Mattress Giant.  I find it astounding that there is enough of a mattress market that there are stores all over this country – including in rural New Hampshire – that are open for hours each day, selling mattresses. Who are these people who are going out in droves each day and buying mattresses?  Of all things!  Are people really wearing out their old mattresses quickly enough and in enough numbers that would warrant an entire chain of stores called MATTRESS GIANT?

Is it just me, or this is just plain weird?

Is it just me… or is there a fact which is just screaming for attention and everyone’s too afraid to say anything?

We’ve got a failing auto industry begging for money.

Why?

Well, largely because people aren’t buying enough new cars.

Why?

Because they’re really fucking expensive!

Well, get a car loan.  Lots of people have done that.

Can’t do that.

Why not?

Well, because, really, all the banks overextended themselves to get Americans, whether they deserved the credit or not, into mortgages that many of them couldn’t afford.

Why would they do that?

Well, ostensibly, to appear as if they want to help Americans “live the American dream of home-ownership”.  In truth, they’re a bunch of greedy bastards.

So, get a second job to pay for a car.

Can’t do that.

Why not?

There aren’t enough jobs to go around right now.  This country is losing jobs.

Why not?

BECAUSE THERE ARE TOO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE AND NOT ENOUGH JOBS!

So, what do we do?  Start killing people?

No, just live simply, drive a beater, try and keep the job you have, and stop having so many fucking children!

Yes, this is a little bit tongue in cheek, but, of course, there is a little truth in every joke.

Bailout rant, part 2

October 7, 2008

OK, OK… so I don’t understand this whole bailout thing academically, so perhaps my criticism of it is unfounded.

However – I think I understand it morally, and it just ain’t sittin’ right with me.

Perhaps I don’t understand what all the ramifications are of the bailout – whether we really need it or not, what would happen without it, etc. etc.  Would there really be another Great Depression?  Would people – heaven forbid  – have to start actually conserving a bit?  As in doing things like combining errands in order to reduce fuel consumption, or turning off the fucking lights when you leave the room, or turning down the thermostat at night, or baking bread from scratch rather than buying it in the store?  (Heh, these are things I’m already doing.  Go figure.)

Or am I being too simplistic here?  Are people losing their shirts and their life savings because of all this mess with the banks?  Did that man in California wipe out his whole family because of economics?  Or did he just have a screw loose in his head?

A part of me wants to see society, as we know it, come to a screeching halt.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s more just a desire for some general shaking up of things.  Call me crazy, but I think we Americans, as much as we bloggers (and others) like to bitch about our country, we do have it pretty easy.  We’ve got our cable TV and our iPods and our box scores and our porn and our processed foods and we just don’t want to have to sacrifice a damned thing for the next guy.  “Do unto others before they do unto you, but wave the flag and put a magnetic yellow ribbon on your SUV and eat an animal that you shot with your own gun, or I’ll call you a socialist hippie bastard.”

But, Christ – $700,000,000,000 – look at all those zeroes – that’s a whole bunch of money to be tossing around.   OUR money.  Money for which many of us worked our asses off, so that these fat-cat banks can sell off their bad loans to the government.  Too many people are living above their means; they’ve bought into the “American dream of home ownership”, and now they don’t really “have” anything except for a mountain of debt they can never hope to dig themselves out of.  How dreamy is that?

Even though a majority of Americans didn’t want this bailout, here we are, staring down the barrel of 7 tenths of a trillion dollars worth of saving the fat cats from their greed-fueled, dim-witted lending practices. Oh, but the government will swoop down and save us.  That’s what the Democraps all want us to believe, right?  Government will help us (even when we don’t want the help).  And the Repugs, they don’t like all the government interference.  But isn’t it all of their resistance to oversight and rallying for deregulation that got us into this mess?

I need some direction here.  I feel like just saying “fuck it” and moving to Canada.  Hell, I live in Maine, which is so close it should be part of Canada anyhow.  Cessation from the Union, ah, now that’s another can of worms.