Tag Archives: economy

Runaway Stage Coach

I gotta stop letting life jerk me around. Take control of the reins, and pull up this runaway team. That’s what it feels like some days when I look around me, jangled and jarred by the verisimilitudes making ends meet like boulders and rocks on my roadway, and see that great chasm opening up wide before me ready to swallow me into obscurity. Will I find myself, soon, clinging to the edge of that cliff, or maybe a couple feet down on some gnarled root where my friends can’t see me, and believe me finally gone?

I exaggerate. Wildly. For Effect.

It’s a nice image, drawn from countless westerns, the stagecoach out of control. It reminds me why the western is so appealing as a genre—where people were their own law, and lived by their own wits. Grab me a gun, a horse, and a saddle, and I could find my own way in the world, seek my fortune. It was wide open.

Modern life just ain’t like that. Each and everyone of us, less the Bill Gates of the world, are being pushed and pulled by external forces we have little to no control over. We’re living in a subprime world where our overlords, the world financial system and the greedy corporations, have so crassly fucked up both our economy and our environment that it feels like we’re all passengers on that stagecoach, and the chasm is only a few feet head of us.

My only consolation is that the stagecoach driver and the guy riding shotgun, in this metaphor, they’re going with us because there sure as shit ain’t no way out for any of us if they don’t pull up those reins quick, and turn those ponies around.

And that, in one metaphor standing in for my life as a passenger in the stagecoach of the 21st century, is the reason for my retooling of my blog. It’s time to skin that smoke wagon, and get to fighting. I’m fighting for my life.

Are you fighting for yours?

Gratifying the Inner Child

“Little Wyatt, if you want your another piece of your candy from Halloween, you have to clean your room first.”

It’s a common command. Children are taught to delay gratification from the bassinet and stroller and onward to school. Learning self-control and how to defer pleasure is essential to becoming an adult human being capable of making responsible decisions that enhance quality of life and ensure survival. Some of our oldest fables and folk stories demonstrate the same principle from the hard plodding tortoise that knows he cannot rest until the job is done and thus beats the hare at a race, to the three little pigs where the one that knows to do the hard work and build his house out of brick doesn’t end up pork tenderloin for a hungry wolf. Of course it’s hardly kosher these days to scare children with stories of pigs being eaten by wolves is it? And how does Little Red Riding Hood fare?

In fact not only are we less likely to tell children cautionary tales of what happens to the selfish, lazy, greedy, and irresponsible, we, collectively as parents, are less likely to teach our children to be anything but greedy, selfish, lazy, and irresponsible anymore. Out the window went spankings and consequences, and while I’m happy to find an alternative to physical violence as a parental disciplinary option if you can show me a better happier way, I’m terribly loath to go the way I have seen this nation tumble towards. Television sets are baby sitters that teach mass consumption. Lack of public approval for discipling children has either led to screaming harpies that don’t care how they are perceived in public or the greater majority of well-meaning parents that hand that children whatever it is they are crying for as soon as they are crying, just to stop the socially embarrassing moment of a child making a scene in public.

Rewards are handed out as incentives for self-expression rather than self-discipline and we’re all lauding the freedom we experience as our entire nation, as in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald, grows ever younger and more immature. Our entire financial institution is now centered around the principle of enjoy now, pay later (or at least have someone else bail you out). Don’t defer. Get a credit card. Credit cards getting a bad rap? Well now you can use layaway at some of the major stores just to be sure you can get what you want now and worry about the consequences later. No matter than you’re now paying much more for it than you should be because all the added interest and fees. Can anyone remember far back into the dark ages when you know, if you had no money in your account, your card wouldn’t let you have any, or wow, your check would bounce? Now instead it lets you go on blithely spending and slams you with fees later – because, of course, you gotta have it now. We have all sunk deep and deeper into a quicksand of instant gratification.

Of course it would be easy to say: don’t use credit, save, only buy what you can afford – except that the whole crazy system of instant gratification has had the domino effect of creating massive inflation (yes, I know there are complex issues and myriad causes, but it is one of those causes). How many years would it take to save for a house, when of course when we are young and raising a family is exactly when we need one? Rising health care costs and the wonderful fraud of insurance of course accounts for huge chunk of change making it impossible to get what we need without credit.

Every where you choose to cast your eye in regards to our culture the cult of childish instant gratification has left its indelible print of banality, self-centeredness, and immaturity: music, art, relationships, media, and our economy. Is there a way, I wonder, to reverse that trend or are we doomed like Benjamin Button to fade into black unable to remember our own name?