Saturday, December 20, 2008

What happened to my country?

This article by Mark Steyn sums up all my feelings on the economy. The American auto industry is moribund. This new bail-out is like an embalmer: he just makes the corpse smell better for awhile. George Bush did just enough to postpone the demise of GM and Chrysler til March. We do this in the hospital also. It's called "let's operate on grandma even though it's hopeless, just so she doesn't die on Christmas".

I don't remember anyone asking for a bailout when the furniture and textile industry of the south collapsed thirty years ago. It's like we have become a nation of panhandlers. The whole economy was built on the illusion of prosperity. I feel so stupid---I never realized that most companies have to borrow money to meet payroll. The lessons of the great depression, such as "save for a rainy day" have been replaced by a new philosophy: "We made it through today". I remember that TV commercial of the fella boasting about all his expensive toys and then remarking; "and I'm in debt up to my eyeballs". The country went on a buying spree sustained by easy credit and manufactured need. If you wanted a new luxury car and could only afford a used Corolla, you just financed that BMW for six years. You really couldn't afford that 20,000 square foot mini-mansion so you got an adjustable rate mortgage with a balloon payment and hoped you wouldn't get the flu and miss a day's work. We had the appearance of prosperity but underneath it everything was leveraged to the max. Our country is now in the denial phase and inching closer to the anger phase. The government is trying to suspend reality and halt the grieving process with a Prozac placebo called a stimulus package. They really think we are stupid. Like a cheating spouse, confidence can only be regained with virtue over time. Instead the government is handing out the "morning after pill" and hoping we all suffer from amnesia.

I will miss GM and Chrysler (I think there is still hope for Ford). My first car was a 1953 Chevrolet Bel-Air, like the Chevy in this classic commercial. It didn't come with a " nav-system" or heated seats. The steering wheel was as big as a bicycle wheel and with its kingpin suspension if you didn't slow down you just didn't make the curve. We were a Chevy family. I had three cousins who were mechanics for Soundview Chevrolet. (When it was time for a safety inspection we didn't have to bring the car in.) There were no child safety seats; my father just removed the rear inside door handles after the third time I fell out of the car. I remember sitting on my father's lap and shifting his 47 Nash when I was about five years old. My parents might not have been attuned to child safety, but they never had a car loan.


Aunt Dot said...

Frank *loves* Steyn.

Hey, you and Steyn have a similar sense of humor!

M- said...

I thought the same thing; this could'a easily been written by Babba. It's a fantastic op-ed along with your post. Nailed exactly the cynicism I feel.

Regarding the NYS debacle going on. There are the grumblings of a citizen groundswell going on here in Roch-cha-cha. Our local talk show host is fielding ideas on how to get across to Albany the anger at how inept they are (since voting and calling seem to be moot). The first plan of attack? Buy a sugared soda, drink or pour it out, flatten the can under your foot, send it to Albany in a 42cent envelope. Someone will have to open each envelope, and separate the paper from the cans since we are a recycling state. Same type of scheme might work for the proposed tax on haircuts.

Babba-Gi said...

Make a statement; buy a $10 hair trimmer before Patterson scalps you. Send your clippings to Albany along with the cans.

D- said...

This guy (Steyn) is great!