Tell me you're not under it what with the stock market tanking and the homes foreclosing and jobs evaporating. Go ahead, dare me to wipe that smirk off your face while you roll through this rough patch with a song in your heart and a silvery Care Bear cloud under your rainbow feet.
As a fun little interweb experiment, I will now list selected words from the top five headlines on the Google News business section as of... right now.
And to give you perspective, that's at least one phrase from each headline and it was pulled on a Saturday morning, the traditional time when all the trader guys are out eating croissants and drinking Chai tea while they have their 911s washed and their souls starched and pressed.
Tell me that this doesn't creep into your psyche in one fashion or another.
Wait, I'm not done. In other news from the exact same millisecond:
Batswana Happy With Institutions
Botswana Press Agency - Feb 27, 2009
GABORONE - The recently released 2008 Afrobarometer Survey has revealed high levels of satisfaction among Botswana citizens in the state of their democracy and governing institutions.
So just so you know, everything is cool in Botswana.
I MEAN COME ON!
Maybe you've never heard of Botswana other than it's an obvious punchline from a Bugs Bunny cartoon back in the '50s. And speaking of that kind of joke because I can never let this kind of opportunity pass me by, if the Internet had come to mass acceptance in the '70s, Afrobarometer.com would have been bigger than Facebook. But have you ever researched Botswana? Look it up on Wikipedia and tell me you can read about it without making a mental note that when Babylon comes crashing down, Botswana might make your top five list of places to expatriate to, along with New Zealand and maybe Barcelona.
Exactly what the hell are we up to over here with our acid-washed blue jeans, our MTV2, and our breakfast burritos? It seems like everybody and your brother are getting stimulated. Am I right? Who's bailing YOU out? Where's YOUR pork project? Personally, I've been trying to convert Intrepid Media into a bank since late October to get some of that TARP cash. I thought I had a winning business model:
1) Instead of those little lollipops they offer at the teller desk, we'd hand out those giant swirly ones you can only get at the mall candy store.
2) Our slogan: "Intrepid Bank. We Only Lose Half Your Money!"
Honestly, tell me that's not too big to fail... in a theoretical sense. But apparently Uncle Sam wants to see a little more "bank" in my definition of a bank. So while I'm sort of half-heartedly looking into not paying my mortgage and also tweaking my "trapezoid" scheme as a more palatable alternative to mark-to-market, I've put all that on the back burner.
Why? Because every time we start to claw our way out of this we step on our own junk. I know, that's a horrible visual. But we're talking about creating jobs while we raise taxes on the job creators. We're talking about saving housing while we tinker with reducing the deduction for home mortgages. We're not nationalizing the banks, just buying up all the preferred shares, so Citigroup preferred stock skyrockets 47% and Citigroup common drops 40% in the same session.
Guess which kind is in your 401K?
And guess who owns the preferred?
Yeah. The soul-starched Carrera jockeys.
So let the eggheads fight it out with the politicians. Seriously, it's like watching the class nerd get whaled on by the class president, which is an enigma as nine times out of ten these were the same person. The only difference, and it's a corker, is instead of keeping an eye out for Principal Dondelinger, we all get to watch our lifestyle, savings, and retirement evaporate instead. Look, this is fine, I'm Gen-X. I never bought into Social Security either, and I plan to spend my twilight years watching colorized versions of Clerks and Sin City and yammering on about how it all went to hell when Britney Spears came on the scene.
My point is, I think I've found the way out of this mess. Its time to go back to rule#1: You have to spend money to make money. If we're going to dig ourselves out of this hole, well then dammit, the first thing we're going to need is a bigger hole.
I know. You're saying "Gee, Joe, great idea, but will it work for a regular guy or gal like me, or do I have to be financial genius with giant bank and lollipop ideas like you?"
Great question. Awesome question. See Mindy at the back of the room and she'll give you a Lobstergram. The answer is you don't have to be me, you don't even have to have my rock-hard abs and propensity to believe that my hair is longer than it is.
All you have to do is spend. Wildly. With abandon. Don't even worry about getting something of fair value back in return. Free market days are over. Up is down and cats and dogs are living together. Just toss it all into the big black vortex.
So before I start spitting out yarns about how "Ed McMahon and Hammer were on the teevee trying to steal my gold," let me leave you with this.
Out-of-control consumer spending is what got us into this mess and, God as our witness, it's out-of-control consumer spending that's going to get us out. And when all this is said and done, if you can find a vehicle that will return half of your investment, well sir, you've got yourself a winner.
(Intrepid Bank. Our books really are fictional! No, seriously, like James Joyce and shit.)
Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.
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3.2.09 @ 7:29a
I can't tell from this if you agree or disagree with the the current stimulus package. I think it's *both*.
3.2.09 @ 9:12a
I can be obtuse at times, but I read this as being completely tongue-in-check. Am I right? I am a bit of a lurker around here. I also think you opened this can of worms to see who sits down with a knife and fork. I'll say two things. One, the constitution provides that the government will protect your right to make your way in this world--not pay your way in this world. It's Obama's moment because we have become a nation looking for a handout, looking for the gubment to save us. It makes me think of how the "fullness of time" came for another savior you might know about. Two, capitalism (like evolution) is a creator and a destroyer. To tinker around with that is a dangerous thing. It's funny how everyone gripes at Bush for going into Iraq without an exit strategy. Yeah, so now Obama (and Nancy) is marching into trillions of dollars of additional debt full force. What's his exit strategy? Handing the keys to the kingdom to China?! Oh, wait, they already have those.
3.2.09 @ 10:54a
3.2.09 @ 11:26a
Look, this is fine, I'm Gen-X. I never bought into Social Security either, and I plan to spend my twilight years watching colorized versions of Clerks and Sin City and yammering on about how it all went to hell when Britney Spears came on the scene.
i'm ALREADY doing this.