Friday, October 3, 2008

The Next Great Depression: When, Not If

Is anyone letting out a big sigh of relief now that the $700 billion bailout has passed?

I didn't think so.

And why should we be relieved? Has anything actually been accomplished? Debt has been shifted around but it's still there. The underlying issues that created the problem in the first place haven't been resolved. We're still operating from within the same totally dysfunctional paradigm.

The goal of the bailout, they're saying, is to free up credit. That is the last thing we need. To go back to business as usual? Come on.

I would much rather have our day of reckoning right now, for believe me it's coming. I would almost wish a depression on us, if it weren't for the magnitude of suffering that will inevitably result. A depression would be nothing more than a true reckoning of our situation. The fact is we are a debtor nation. The greatest debtor nation in the world. Americans now owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. We don't own so much as our own front doors. We have nothing. Why can't we face that now and begin to build true wealth?

I believe this bailout solves absolutely nothing. As individuals and families we need to prepare for the absolute worst. The dollar is going to fail. We are going to suffer from hyper-inflation. Savings, retirement accounts will be totally wiped out. Just forget that you even have them.

Focus on the real, tangible things. Your house, your land, your local community, your food supply, your water supply, how to stay warm, how to stay healthy, how to get along with people. The only capital that matters is our human and environmental capital. You know, the real stuff. Credit isn't real. Mortgages aren't real. Money isn't even real--we just use it symbolically to create the life we want.

But we can create good, meaningful, balanced lives without Wall Street.

That's the good thing that could potentially come out of all of this. Once people get over the shock of it all, and begin to let go of their idea that money ever meant anything in the first place, we might evolve into a whole new way of thinking and being.

We will return to living locally. Resources for the most part will remain within our communities and our communities will once more be strong vibrant places. We will no longer exploit the environment because it will be our environment--what we can see with our own two eyes. We will have to care because our well-being will depend on it. We will no longer have the luxury of robbing from future generations to finance our excesses. We will learn to live within our means and the means of this planet.

I know I sound like some doomsday extremist, but these are very extreme times. You have to know our economy can't continue growing indefinitely. This world has limits and we are already rubbing up against many of them. Sooner or later this system will fail. My prediction is that the time is nearly at hand. So, maybe the bailout buys us a little time. My advice--use that time very wisely.

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