Saturday, February 28, 2009

Psst....Guess What? The Government Isn't Going To "Save" You!

Now this isn't a dismissal of the Obama feel good pep talk. Right now everyone's so antsy or downright depressed it feels good to have sun on our faces and a little boost. Plus going down the list from former Presidents to pundits to financial advisors, they don't want PBO to be so blunt. That's too bad because the alarm should be ringing!! So it's down the rabbit hole and being distracted by shiny happy people. Fine. Now that we've been "allowed" to have our dessert first there's still vegetables on our plates. 

We can't ignore certain realities. The national unemployment rate is hovering around 8% (for Blacks it's the highest and closer to 13%). This of course only counts the recently unemployed - not those already in that leaky boat. In California the jobless rate just jumped to 10.1%, sales tax will be increased 1% and personal income tax goes up 2.5%. So yes, we need to plug the hole and steady the boat, but it's been drifting offshore for quite some time. 

We need a lifeline, bucket or paddle to pull ourselves back to the mainland. So the government will step in with its stimulus attempts, but if history shows us anything is that it's limited in its scope for getting to everyone who actually needs help. It's always been people that have been the catalyst that has propelled society forward, either others stepping in or our own survival skills. We are always our greatest advocates. 

It has been the lack of ethics that has caused this huge global financial deterioration. Reaganomics has been a complete and utter disaster. Will the Republican party get that? The decisions we make now will have a long-term impact for our future generations and may determine if we get a future period! I've heard people say they don't care what happens in other countries and are only concerned about the United States. They might care when they realize the bulk of jobs that have been outsourced by US corps to foreign nations support a dubious infrastructure that's collapsing. The impact of what one nation does can have worldwide repercussions for years.

To hear the pundits and some economists, this is all a mere "blip" (give or take a few trillion and a couple of years) and then we can go back to business as usual. Where's my buzzer? NO! Part of the Obama plan for reducing the deficit is to cut back on militarism. How long do you think it will take for another "conflict" to pop off because the war profiteers aren't going to just fade into the background? It's great that PBO wants to show us a written account of how much "our way of life" actually costs by releasing the amounts spent for the Iraqi occupation, but I don't think people understand what is actually going on. There's a deliberate media obfuscation at laying the biggest portion of blame on the 3 Trillion + spent on destroying/rebuilding/stealing resources in Iraq.  It was never about "freedom" for the people.

I went to a Massive Attack show six years ago where they craftily employed a little policy reality check by listing all of the military spending by Western countries on a huge projector. The US outspends the entire world by as much as 8 times the amount. $720M per day. A few weeks of that would wipe out the California deficit. We could resolve homelessness!  I could get into priorities and analysis, blah blah blah. The bottom line is despite some who think we've elected a hippy, the domination/annihilation tactics of this country isn't going to change much. It might be pulled back at best if diplomacy/threats will work. Otherwise it's going to be business as usual and China will own another 10% of the United States.

So I sorta fell off of what my planned original post which was supposed to be about women and our relationship with money but this all ties together. Knowledge is power and  the more we know the better our lives will be. Wednesday's episode of Oprah highlights a Lisa Ling investigative report, "Tent Cities" on the explosion of the homeless population in Sacramento and Northern California of formerly middle class white families (amongst others). Some of the people interviewed talked about trying to keep up with the American dream (aka rampant materialism), not planning for a future and thinking "they" would always be okay no matter what. It was difficult to watch. It's easy to feel vulnerable to despair these days but we need to keep focused on navigating our way through this challenging time instead. 

If you have a job you might want to consider cutting back on everything absolutely not necessary. If you live in an apartment building perhaps you and a neighbor could share wireless service or speak to your building manager about setting up a network. Learn to garden. Barter services in exchange for other goods. Don't pay to see a movie without buying discounted tickets and waiting two weeks. If you're un(der) employed go to a food bank, find out if you can volunteer your skills in exchange for something you need and consider applying for 2-3 pt jobs.  Perhaps you can take in a boarder or move into a home that an owner needs help paying their mortgage (as featured on Oprah). I haven't seen this downturn (collapse) affecting most of the people I mingle with online but I know of several people who've lost jobs. Perhaps now is the time to start a business! This is the time to go for broke....since we're going broke anyway.....

Here's an interview on Canadian television with Suze Orman from last year who made some timely statements:
  • We get very emotional about money - the value we attach to it.
  • Women don't think about money until something catastrophic occurs.
  • We say "Yes" out of fear instead of saying "No" out of love (for ourselves).
This is especially true for some Black women, who thanks to the ABIT (American Black Indoctrination Technique) buys into thinking we are responsible for rescuing everybody else and that carrying the weight of the "Black community" is somehow noble and Christ-like even. Except that we're not Messiahs on a mission of redemption for the masses. We're just women with free will to either make choices that will benefit us or...not. We can take steps to save ourselves or perish.

The entire interview was good but pay very close attention to 1:34-4:09 and 7:08-8:14. It's all a wake up call. We can survive and thrive despite all obstacles as long as we learn to maneuver, shadow box, bob and weave or knock somebody out if necessary. Being prepared is key. 

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