Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Money Changes Everything*



A whole bunch of common expressions used here in the U.S. have just become obsolete. "Bank on it," "Like money in the bank," "Laughing all the way to the bank," etc. - these just don't make sense anymore, here or in many places around the world.

It's completely bewildering, watching it all come down, like 9/11, except in slow motion. One of my friends said it feels "biblical." I know what she's talking about. The way we live, our societal structures, are crumbling right before our eyes. It's awesome in a very scary way to be living in the middle of history. Maybe that's why the presidential debates last night seemed so boring, so beside the point.

I've been contemplating the way in which illness and trauma create fundamental change, but my thoughts about the phenomena were cast in the light of personal illness or trauma. What about societal illness, societal trauma? How big is this change we're now experiencing?

And even more frightening, what's next?

*There's an incredible Youtube video of Cyndy Lauper performing this song, wearing a 1950's style girdle and the biggest hair in the world. The guy on keyboards has a mullet that would make 1980's era Hammer extremely jealous. Ah ... those were the good old days, when you could bank on things. Remember?

26 comments:

Angela said...

Here in Germany (Europe) we also feel the shock waves, but maybe not as hard as in the US. It makes you think about the worth of money, doesn`t it? What`s money anyway? Nothing really. Paper. It is a promise, and you must trust it. As soon as you don`t, there is not much left. Spending money you don`t have (with a credit card) seems so easy, until...
I think the reason why this crisis doesn`t hit us here not quite as hard is that at least the older generation still knows about scarce times. We, for example, never bought a car when we hadn`t saved the money before. ALL the money. It was much cheaper that way, too, no interest to be paid.
But modern times are different I know. What is now needed is more...not more rules but more consequences for the offenders of the common sense rules I suppose. What do you say?

Reya Mellicker said...

I don't know what to say, except what goes up must come down. The stock market can't continue to grow unchecked. Unchecked growth is cancer.

All I feel qualified to say is YIKES!

willow said...

My father in law always used to say "don't take any wooden nickles". Yikes is right.

Val said...

blimey. I dont know what to say or think either - except that big changes are afoot and we must be ready to adapt - be bendy like trees in the wind. I am not 'financially sophisticated' (learnt that one today) so am just watching and hoping for the best for all xV

Steve said...

It is strange to watch, and it does seem rather apocalyptic. But it's also strangely exciting. I hope what comes after is less profit-centric. Maybe we'll all realize the value of things beyond money? (Yeah, right.)

Great video! I miss the '80s. (Never thought I'd say that!)

Merle Sneed said...

Excess in the markets always gets corrected, sometimes painfully so.

rothko said...

God, I love YouTube. I used to have this entire Cyndi Lauper Paris concert on VHS. Probably still do, somewhere, but it's better being able to watch on my computer. Cyndi Lauper was my first in a long line of crushes on female songstresses.

cuff said...

Maybe some of the people in power will start to realize that there's a reason we used regulatory measures to check the madness of Wall Street schemes...or maybe we'll replace the people in power with those smart enough to realize it.

Markets are nothing more than pure speculation; like a broken clock that's right twice a day, the market occasionally reflects true value.

Cyndy said...

I like angela's thought: Money is a promise. I sure wish I didn't need any. I've been enjoying these discussions about change so much that I've linked to your previous 2 posts. Sorry I missed this one.
Cyndi Lauper is awesome and so is her bass player!

Hammer said...

My mullet was genuine. That mullet is absurd. Back in the day, I didn't envy people with mullets like that - I kicked their butts.

Just sayin'.

Barbara said...

I can say with certainty that fundamental change will come of necessity as a result of our economic crisis. We have all probably seen the best and easiest years of our lives and made little preparation for what's to come. I have no doubt that humanity can rise to the occasion as the playing field between rich and poor seeks a new equilibrium. It is uncharted territory into which we are moving.

Reya Mellicker said...

Barbara there are people all over this country who have been working two and three jobs, jacked up on crystal meth, who would tell you that the last ten years or so have definitely NOT been the best or easiest of their lives. This crisis has been building for a long time, but hasn't touched some of us who live at the top of the food chain.

Hammer? Even without your mullet, you kick ass every single day.

Reya Mellicker said...

Should say, especially without your mullet!

tut-tut said...

I don't think some of these people who have been at the very top (example: those bankers at the St. Regis) even understand what excess and greed ARE anymore. How can someone paid in the millions understand what it is to make a salary of 5 figures?? And taking two people to do it, at that.

suicide_blond said...

soooo ...
i have a theory...
maybe hammers mullet is like the "Hair of Sampson" of the economy...
greenspan and bernake were mere pawns.... the problem ISNT greed on wall street...but the fact that HE CUT HIS HAIR....

***paid for by the commission to convince hammer to re-grow his mullet for the stability of the global economy***

xoxo

Hammer said...

Oh hell no to regrowing the mullet! As photos prove, my mullet achieved absolute perfection in 1990, and any attempt to regrow it would be nothing more than a sad cry for help and pathetic, fumbling grasp for long-past glory.

Okay, truth be told the financial collapse went down like this:

I was washing some clothes in my building's laundry room. Unknow to me, someone had left fabric softener sheets in the dryer and my previously manly clothing became wussified, causing a catastrophic ripple effect thoughout not only the economy, but the entire known universe. It was even worse than that time I agreed to see "Runaway Bride" in the theater with Beth Collins in 1999.

I have bought five pairs of Wrangler jeans to help offset this, but I fear too much damage may have already been done. I'd stock up on canned food and bottled water if I were y'all.

Washington Cube said...

I remember reading about Germany between wars, and things got so bad (and money lost such value) that people carried their money in wheelbarrows.

Lately I haven't been thinking about Cyndi Lauper, but rather:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xTTWHMCXdg

Reya Mellicker said...

Is it a horrible thing to admit that I'd rather have our banking system collapse than see Hammer in a mullet?

Hmmm ...

Yeah. It is. But ...

Cube! Wow ... Ginger is so young! I was thinking it's pretty scary to realize that the top box office movie last week featured a speaking chihuahua.

Where is Buzby Berkeley when we need him? (attempt at humor)

Reya Mellicker said...

Cube - ig-pay atin-lay?

Uh oh!

Reya Mellicker said...

Hammer - You have to buy 700 billion pairs of Wranglers in order to straighten this out ... and distribute with oversight. Get to it, dah-lin'

Barbara said...

I was speaking from the standpoint of people around my age who lived through some pretty good years. We've had lower gas prices than the rest of the world for years. I can remember when gas was 22 cents a gallon (maybe around 1956?) Until 9/11, most people in this country thought we were invincible. Unless a person is over 75, that person didn't live through the Depression. Since then life's been fairly easy for a lot of people who may need to make some changes now that we see things in decline. Your prediction of the End of the Empire is perhaps becoming a reality!

Reya Mellicker said...

Until 9/11, most people in this country thought we were invincible.

I don't know if this is true, maybe, maybe not. I never thought of us as invincible. My guess is, I'm not the only one who saw that we couldn't keep pumping up our lifestyles at such a great cost to the rest of the world.

I still think it's so weird that some people expect food to be cheap. It's hard to grow food, but there are expectations based on ... what? You tell me.

Adrianne said...

Alhtough I certainly cannot speak for everyone in it, I get the feeling that most people in my generation thought that America was pretty much impervious to anything except a nuclear bomb.

And I get what Barbara's saying about about America as a society having to make an adjustment from the easy life to the not-so-easy life. Sure there have been poor people over the last two or three decades and people who have struggled in order not to be poor; however, as a society, we generally have enjoyed a period of great abudance -- abundant food, abundant energy sources, abundant health care (although getting access to it admittedly has proved tricky for some), abundant entertainment, and an abundance of luxuries that many people have confused with necessities.

Many people in my generation have known America only in its abundant and affluent state and have taken it for granted that things would ever remain thus. I think that those people are about to find out how wrong and misguided they have been.

Reya Mellicker said...

Adrianne, I bet if you talked to folks living in Anacostia or less privileged areas of Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, or pretty much everyone except the most privileged in Mississippi and Alabama, you might hear a different view of what this country has been about - abundance for a few, but not for all or even most. Same goes for health care, food and energy sources.

I have a friend who works for Child Protective Services. The stories I hear from her convince me I've been safe and sound inside my own little bubble, oblivious to what life is like for many.

Adrianne said...

I think that we may have to agree to disagree on this one, at least in part.

I do fully agree with you that there are people in the US who are less privileged compared to the middle or upper classes, and there are people who are indeed very poor -- some of those people have very hard lives, which is in some part because they lack money but also for other, more complicated reasons.

However, our underprivileged citizens live within a larger society in which food is so freely available that obesity has become an epidemic problem; in which energy is so abundant that our roads are packed with gas-guzzling SUVs; in which some of the best "western" doctors in the world are available to treat our illnesses (and to study ways to treat them more effectively) and in which acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, and other healing modalities also are available in many areas; in which we have systems in place to aid those that cannot afford food and medical care and to try to make sure that no one falls through the cracks; and in which many who are considered poor by our standards nonetheless have things like televisions, cars, and cell phones.

Although it is certainly true that not every person in this country has access to all aspects of the abundance at any given moment, and some folks don't have access to much of it ever, I would argue that the fact remains that the range of what is available in this country to meet our collective necessities and satisfy our collective wants is, at this moment in history, nothing short of staggering. And I think that many more of us are about to discover what it's like not to be able to afford so many of the things that in theory are available to us and so many of the things that, up to now, we have assumed we'd always have.

Reya Mellicker said...

Well educated upper middle class white people will always have access to more stuff, and higher quality stuff, than working class folks.

Moving this conversation to email ...