Back when I was a little kid in grade school, before I had all this responsibility, I rode the school bus. Since we lived in the country it was a long trip to the school, through farm land, down roads that had no lines painted on them because they just weren’t wide enough to support two dedicated lanes. Because I was not then, nor am I now, a morning kind of person, the ride in the mornings was a chance for my wee little grade-school brain to daydream that I was anywhere else besides on a school bus. My favorite dream involved staring out the window and imagining myself on a horse, racing alongside the bus, jumping ditches and creeks.
Yes, I was a weird kid. I could have daydreamed that horse taking me anywhere but school, and yet there I was, racing the school bus. Guess that explains why I never ditched school; I couldn’t come up with a better alternative. (Goody Two Shoes, thy name is Mox.)
There are times where I wish I could go back to that particular daydream, imagining myself racing free across fields and jumping ditches. It’s hard to revisit those old daydreams of youth, when you know what you know as an adult.
Yesterday and today and tomorrow, as a matter of fact, would be nice days to revisit that imagined freedom. But I have this thing called responsibility, and while what I know about economics wouldn’t fit on the head of a pin, I know enough to know that my responsibility just got a little harder yesterday.
The hard thing to realize about the economic crisis we’re facing today is that basically you and I (if you are in the same boat as I am, and a good many of us are in this boat) are helpless until something gets resolved. Which is to say, there is nothing I can do to push this bailout forward. And to call it a bailout really toys with the emotions of common folk like me. Where is MY bailout? Who out there will rescue me from my own foolishness?
Look, I believe that each of us is the architect of our own life. The decisions we make shape the course of our life, and there is no sense blaming anyone else for our screw-ups. Had I chosen to ditch school all those years ago, chosen to escalate that behavior to the point that I got expelled, chosen to become an uneducated blight on society, chosen to get addicted to something or have children out of wedlock or refused to get a job… well, then, those would have been my choices and it would not make any sense to blame any of that on anyone else but myself. It is not the government’s responsibility to save me from myself.
I guess what I am saying is, that with my limited understanding of this economic mess we’re in right now, I’m not really sure how I feel about this bailout. It’s a problem of our own creation, we have allowed things to go along this path, and now we’re looking to the government to stop it from plunging over the edge into the abyss. I can see where the bailout is necessary to avoid a catastrophic collapse of our economy, but I also hate that we’ve allowed it to come to this.
My great-grandfather was a prominent businessman in a small town in Kentucky at the beginning of the 20th century. He owned movie theatres and restaurants and ice cream parlors, and he and his family lived in a big house on a hill. In 1929 he literally lost everything. It not only ruined him financially, it ruined him emotionally. He was never able to recapture the entrepreneurial drive he’d had before. He took a job as a night watchman at a tobacco warehouse, and he waited the rest of his life to die.
I wonder what he would make of the world that his great-granddaughter is living in today.