Monday, August 30, 2010

Economic Downturn, Rotten Eggs

When it comes to reporting on the so-called Economic Downturn, a.k.a. Great Depression "The Sequel", the papers will often post stories citing a bunch of statistics about unemployment percentages and whatnot, and then quote some economic analyst in a big city who'll talk about what was predicted and what actually happened. yada yada yada. But the real story comes through when you hear it as experienced by people close to you.

Such is the case this past weekend, as related by a friend who calls me up with the following story: Uncle So n' So lives the American Dream - suburban home with a mortgage, 2 kids, dog, cat, pool, smokin' hot wife. Problem is, Uncle So n' So doesn't know how to live within his means. Went through some financial trouble about a decade ago, lost the house, but got back up on his feet - Alas, with the help of his retired father. Thing is, Uncle So n' So got in deep this year, and unbeknownst to retired father, ran up retired father's credit card bill into the thousands. How much? Let's just say it's a little less than what I make in a year.

Retired father finds out and goes ballistic but Uncle So n' So refuses to field Retired Father's calls. Nothing nastier than a family fighting over money. The situation is compounded by the fact that my friend has limited sympathy for her uncle as on one hand, yeah, the industry he works for is directly related to the housing market, which we all know has imploded, so work is slow and sporadic, but on the other hand, the dude drives a high end sports car, also owns a truck, wife owns a convertible, and a big ass luxury SUV.

You know, isht like that could never happen in my family cuz' a) my dad would never put me on his credit card; and b) you could be damn sure if I ever owned a luxury car, I'd trade it in for a less expensive model in a heartbeat and use the money for you know, shit of actual value rather than, food.

But that's the issue before Americans now - We're so used to living like rock stars, and have such a grandiose sense of entitlement, it's hard to accept the fact that we're broke. Though I don't watch TV, I occasionally get a glimpse of it and the crap corporate America is feeding us vis a vis advertising doesn't reflect our economic reality in any shape or form. Which is all to say, the cognitive dissonance we're experiencing has the potential to create some very violent outcomes. Just look at the fascist-larva that is the Tea Party and all the brouhaha over an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan.

Back at home, the salmonella tainted egg scandal couldn't have come at a better time for me. You see, the chickens I brought home via bike in March have recently started laying eggs. They've also been quite loud, and the thought of my neighbors snitching to the pigs every time they hear a "BUCKAW!" makes me cringe. Cuz' you know how suburban middle class Americans tend to think - they'll accept the sound of a leaf blower or gas powered lawn mower on a Sunday morning, but chickens are just a reminder of a life they thought they'd left back in 1934.

Needless to say, I've taken to showing up at my neighbor's doorsteps with a half dozen "Salmonella free" eggs. They smile and sometimes give me tomatoes or squash from their back yards.

"Hi! Yes, I'm that dude who doesn't own a car in the neighborhood. Yes, I got chickens, here are some eggs. No salmonella I assure you. Anti-captialist? I don't know what you're talking about. Lost your job? Damn, times are rough. We definitely gotta stick together these days. Peak Oil, Global Warming activist? Nah, I'm just uh, not big on cars...self reliance is a good thing, que no? We gotta learn to live within our means, right? By the way, I don't suppose you got an expensive sports car we could sell for some food? Just kidding. Yeah, no worries. I'll ask again next year..."

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