everything will be fine


I remember visiting a small city in Siberia during my time in Russia, and making a one-day visit to a former gulag village to inspect a branch location of the bank we were auditing.
At one point during the trip, we passed a sign that said (roughly) “for the next 10 miles, roll up your windows, drive as fast as you possibly can and do not stop.”  I stared at it, and then checked my watch.

As you can probably imagine, I asked the driver of the car whether I should worry. As he rolled the manual window handle up, he told me – not reassuringly at all – “yes.”  We were driving through an irradiated zone, the site of a ‘secret’ nuclear disaster back in the 70s.  The clear spring day seemed innocent enough, but the driver’s hunched position over the wheel made me sit back and (stupidly enough) hold my breath.

I think we’re all doing that a little bit these days. We’re being told that everything’s going to be alright, in the immortal words of Bob Marley, but at the same time we need to hold our breath and roll up the windows.  It’s not easy to do.   The latest ‘fix’ being proposed is to buy toxic assets and hey-gosh-don’t-ya-know they’ll be worth a lot more than what the government bought them for, if only the pesky doubtin’ types get out of the way.  The nuclear meltdown isn’t the problem, it’s the lollygaggers who don’t drive on through quick enough.

I’d like to see a history of this era written at some point that blames the right people for the mess we’re in. The people who bought houses on speculation of insanely increasing prices; the people who voted for insane and corrupt congressmen who deregulated industries; and the administration, reelected in 2004,  that dithered and did nothing while the financial system collapsed.  Who’s to blame?  We are.  I am. Investors in AIG, Bear Stearns, Citigroup.  Voters for … well, almost anyone.

If a small child’s frightened, human instinct is to tell them that everything will be fine. One of the worst lessons a child can ever learn is that this is a lie.  Sometimes things will not be fine.  Things will go topsy-turvy.  The media and government seem to think most of us are children, and that repeating “everything will be fine” will be enough of an answer.  It won’t be enough, soon.  Everything is not alright – and everything is not fine.  At some point, I’d like to hear someone admit that some things are fundamentally broken, and it’s no longer a question of repair – it’s a question of rebuilding.  Everything will NOT be fine until someone admits it won’t.

photo credit: brndnprkns

11 comments

  • I strongly disagree. Everything will turn out ok in the end. If it's not ok, it's not the end. Now, that doesn't mean everything will be exactly the same as it was before, but it will be bigger and better and brighter. Eventually.

    If you (or anyone else) thinks that's not the case, then we should be doing something about it. No one gets to write the future but us.

    Wow, I'm optimistic today 😉

  • The crisis has clearly spiraled out of control in a way that was unforeseen by the government and the general public. Things will clearly not be just fine in the near term, if only for the reason that nobody seems to be in control.

  • I am more of a realist like you and agree that things may not always be fine, just because you want them to turn out that way. in terms of the economy I believe things will turn over at some point, nobody knows how long that will be. With kids, also, should just try to be honest and open with them and treat them with respect and explain the situation. That should happen to everyone as well now.

  • I totally understand where you're coming from! Some of these are my thoughts, too. I was just commenting to Arohan (of PersonalDividends.com) the other day that there's going to be quite the slew of PhD dissertations done about this period in economic history…. and now with China explicitly asking for a global currency…. that was supposed to be a mythical day in the future, but it's already here.

    I think it will be okay too, but the landscape is going to look a lot different. I fear that the US government is going to bully other nations into hyperinflating along with it, when that's not necessary. The US, unfortunately, needs to deflate its own bubble without the rest of the world in tandem. Saw a video in which Citigroup reps went to Norway – small towns – in order to personally sell their securitized CDO's – no one in Norway really understood what they were buying, but they bought on the mythical “strength” of the US dollar/economy etc… this happened in so many countries. Peter Schiff is right that the rest of the world needs to understand they have to part with this belief, so to speak. It has nothing to do with American culture, patriotism, protectionism. It's just a simple economic matter of fact. And then we can all get over it in a few years.

    So I guess I'm a realist like craig said here, too. No point in blowing things out of proportion or misinterpreting them, etc.

  • “Okay” and “fine” are great feel-good words. This is not the end of times. But it is the end of “the way things are done.”

    Things will change. But I fear that we will regress to our old ways soon enough. It took 60 years to get to this point (consumerism, spending out of control at both the home and government levels)…it will take some time to break old habits. Maybe they won't get broken.

    But it's obvious “the way things work” cannot continue.

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  • My daughter says that the definition of insanity is doing the same things and expect different results.

    If we ask ourselves, what is being done differently now, I wonder what the results would be. Just saying “it will be fine” doesn't count.

    I share your opinion, Steve. Somewhere along the line, some of the broken things have to be fixed. One of the first should be to make those in positions of authority be accountable.

    Just voting them out or sacking CEOs doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent.

  • My daughter says that the definition of insanity is doing the same things and expect different results.

    If we ask ourselves, what is being done differently now, I wonder what the results would be. Just saying “it will be fine” doesn't count.

    I share your opinion, Steve. Somewhere along the line, some of the broken things have to be fixed. One of the first should be to make those in positions of authority be accountable.

    Just voting them out or sacking CEOs doesn't seem to be much of a deterrent.

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