The economy: Where’s the bottom?

When I was a kid and I was in trouble, I used to think to myself  ” What’s the worst thing that could happen? “I would then come up with the worst punishment I could imagine. I would lie on my bed in my room where I had been confined and imagine what further punishment I might receive for the wrong I had committed. This would usually take me a few minutes. I would imagine the punishments and how they would feel. I would imagine the pain received. I would then feel in control of the future. It seemed simple to me to imagine pain received and then, pain being over. In today’s world I can’t imagine the pain or the punishment as the economic future seems completely out of control. Each day brings a new report of another company hitting  bottom and closing, more people being out of work, more homes being lost and more economic chaos. It seems we have no idea of when this slide will stop nor where we will be when it does. Sometimes I try to think of ways to save or invest in something that will be a needed commodity in future times and I come up empty. All around me I see friends who have to give up their homes, tuition for their children in college,  hopes for their future retirement, and I wonder where it will end. Tonight on the news there was a report of a tent city in Sacramento where 50 people a day arrive to pitch tents and subsist on handouts and good cheer of others who are out of work and homeless. Still I do not see a solution being offered by our government. The problem is too great for any one person to solve. I wonder what will happen and what will be valued? “Invest in treasury bills!” says one smart friend, but what will happen to treasuries if our government goes broke? What value will cash hold if there is no backing to the dollar? I hate to be negative but I can’t feel any other way. I think I am not alone in this and I am worried for all of us feeling this way. I want to feel connected to my family and my friends and I want to believe in a circle of support but I am having a hard time doing it. I don’t feel depressed, I feel empty and powerless which seems to be a common feeling. Even Warren Buffet feels this way. I wonder where Warren keeps his cash?I keep thinking  if we all stick together we can get through this but I am growing tired of thinking this way as it doesn’t seem practical. I understand those that retreat to the wilderness and grow their own food. The thing I don’t understand is the desire to buy guns and larger guns and to stockpile ammo. We have had enough of wars to know they never solve anything and just create more rules. Yes, it is true that a war usually solves a recession but to what end? The current economy will produce more crime and more hatred if we don’t find a way to see our own commonality. I am trying to do that every day and I will keep on trying. I hope we all try as if we don’t we will become even more disenfranchised. “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” God only knows.

rules more rules and even more rules: Economic Freedom goes to Prison!

Each day the news has more articles on how we are going to solve the current economic crisis. There are lists of new rules to be  implemented as well as policies to be put in place by our well intentioned government that will supposedly stop the recession from continuing and prevent our world from falling into a downward spiral. All of the people making these rules are doing  so believing in the power of rules and in their ability to create order out of chaos. This line of reasoning is extinct and needs to be revised as it doesn’t work anymore. Rules only make more chaos and limiting the behavior of economic institutions or individuals only makes for more unreasonable behavior and more feelings of mistrust. Think about it for a moment. We have created an economic climate where there is no safe place to save money. Even treasury bills are unsafe as we have no idea if the United States government will hold up under the tremendous strain our bailout package is going to cost. Many people have lost everything  and many more will lose even more and yet we have speeches in Washington daily telling us not to worry and  this economic free fall is under control due to these “new rules”. Our leaders are desperately trying to get us to “buy in” to their ideas and beliefs so we will live our lives the way we used to by shopping and spending and having confidence in the strength of our government as well as our economic system. This is not happening and it is not happening for good reasons. Rules never make anything better, they tend to alienate and isolate individuals and create a lack of cohesion in a culture rather than a feeling of  safety. Safety is created through trust and the ability to rely on other individuals and on our own economic system. It’s quite similar to a marriage  in which trust has been violated and one of the partners has lied and been unfaithful to the other. If the couple decides to stay together and try to work out the relationship, there must be an openness in their communication as well as trust. This trust does not happen immediately as once a lie has been told,  it is hard to believe again in ones partner. The way to rebuild trust is to receive small truths over a period of time and be able to verify them. In other words, to ask where ones partner was when they are late in returning home and to receive an explanation that is verifiable. Unless the couple is able to go through the steps of this process with the expected falling back and going forward, the marriage may not survive and deepen from the experience.

In the case of our economy, it will take more than the recitation of new economic rules to create confidence among the people of the world. Interfering with an economic system is a debatable idea: allowing an economy to balance itself is not a popular tactic today yet it was once the only practice to live by. The first variable to be addressed is greed. This is such a big subject there is no way anyone could tackle it in one sitting. All of the countries in the world are watching the roulette wheel of our economy spin  and hoping the red or the black will pay off for them. We are all standing around the roulette table placing wagers on our future and some are doing this without considering the amount of risk they are taking in their wager. It seems we give lip service to cooperation and consideration of our fellow nations but we have no trust of them nor do we trust our own ability to save our country from this looming depression. We continue to make rules which apply today but may not apply tomorrow.

We need to take baby steps towards confidence by setting policies that have been agreed on through consensus building rather than rules. I don’t see this happening in the world, in our country, in the condominium development where I live, nor in my own family. People believe that rules will create order but it seems to me the more rules we have the greater the chaos becomes as no one likes restraint which they have not had a hand in creating.

criticism and hope

Today I had a meeting with my writers group which is composed of women who are many different ages and of many different types. I love this group of women as they are so diverse yet so interesting to me. One of these remarkable women is 90 years old and working on her second novel. She published her first last year at the ripe old age of 89. One thing I notice about this group is the focus and attention given to the work of each member. Another thing I notice is the focus given to grammar and punctuation in everyone’s work. Today I received a critique on my blog  and one of our members announced she simply didn’t read or believe anything that had spelling mistakes in it. She said this disdainfully without looking at me and she was a youngish women.I watched my reaction to her remark with interest as I was surprised at the amount of emotion I felt. I realized some in my group are uncomfortable with my sharing of emotions in this blog as they view this as too “exposed”.  I view my blog as a place where I express the true side of my soul. The critical member of my group must fall into the “uncomfortable” category and yet, I had to agree with her as I am not a fan of misspelling but I do it all the  time having had learning disabilities as a child. I think I felt as if it were a shame she had missed the content of the blog by becoming annoyed at misspelling and turning off her mind. I am a believer in good communication as I spent so many years studying the subject. I think we listen to feedback if we are given both positive and negative feedback in the same session. Here is what is good and here is what needs work. If we hear something good about our work we are heartened and more likely to listen to where we need to work harder. I appreciate this woman’s comments as I will now be more careful of spelling errors but also more tolerant of others who also make errors but may have something interesting to say.It is my hope that eventually my group will return to the point of writing groups which is to encourage new ideas and new work among  its members and to provide feedback on content. While editing is very helpful it should not be the most important thing we do for each other but something we offer as an aid to publishing the final work.Sometimes we get so focused on the imperfection of one tree we miss the beauty of the forest.Imagine if we were to edit life in this manner… we would miss sunsets in favor of counting the clouds obscuring the sky.

Push me Pull you or the pushmepullyou

Dr Doolittle coined the phrase long before anyone else had a hold of it. I am talking about the dance in relationships of too near too far, too close too distant, or available versus unavailable. I suffer from all the above and have done so all of my life. When someone gets too close to me I find it pleasant, at times, and then suffocating, at other times. I am working on a peaceful coexistence with the world and my intimate friends but it will probably take me all of this lifetime and some of the next to work it out in a comfortable way. While I long for closeness the actuality of it makes me reach for my asthma inhaler. It is so interesting to me particularly during this time of struggle and fear in the world. I had a talk today with my friend, Jack Kornfield, who is a Buddhist monk and a great teacher. We went for a walk at Spirit Rock and came upon a place filled with small things people had left as gifts for the universe which made us both feel like children who had found magic.That’s what I love about Jack: he has an amazing ability to live from a child’s perspective and find wonder everywhere. We spoke of how much a place like Spirit Rock is needed in the world today as so many people have lost everything and have little idea of how to survive. One has no idea of what tomorrow may bring in terms of financial stability which places so much pressure on relationships and on human beings both young and old. The entire world is affected and everyone in every country is suffering from feelings of powerlessness and pain. The only thing we can really count on is our own self and our ability to stay in the present moment, aware and alert, and the ablilityto reach out to those near and far from us and offer them a hand. Sometimes I forget how important it is to feel the comfort of someone’s hand or to see a warm smile directed at me. When I remember to reach out I feel joy in doing so. Spirit Rock has some prayer wheels placed around the grounds which one reaches out and spins on passing. There are written prayers placed inside which then are sent out into the universe with each spin. I am going to look for a prayer wheel for my house. I think it will be fun to have one.