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Benefit of the Downturn — Learning Resilience

Benefit of the Downturn — Learning Resilience

The current stresses have a lot of us feeling like we’re pushing bus-sized boulders up the Matterhorn. The trauma of having so much change so fast for so many is truly numbing. But we still have to live it. So the question becomes: How do I do this well? What can I change about the way I’m going at it that would make it easier?

Well, I’m not sure a major upheaval can ever be “easy.” But the thing I most need to change–and am least inclined to alter–is the idea that “this should not be happening.” So that’s a first step. Let’s work on getting past that. It doesn’t make any difference whether it should be happening or not, it is happening. The first step is to accept that.

That leads to the next question: If it’s happening, am I doing what I can to deal with the new situation?Your answer may be as simple as “I’m eating at home more” or as extreme as “I’m living in my grandmother’s basement while I look for another job.” But in every case, the change you make needs to be on target with your changed situation.

But is it? Sometimes we change things just to feel like we are doing something. When we do that out of panic instead of based on a planned effort, we waste time, money, and momentum at a point when we need to conserve all three.

This week started for me with a string of losses. Nothing from which I can’t recover, but quite a load for one morning. I’ve put a lot into getting people to value the talent and experience of older workers. I’m committed to this mission and passionate about the need for change. But as I struggled with my Monday disappointments, my thoughts suddenly turned toward going back to school. To study nursing!

That might be a great strategy for some of you. But I don’t do well with the sight of blood. I do not belong in nursing, even if nurses are in such short supply they can find a job in a day. But the “sure thing” seemed like the right call for a few hours there.

Don’t do it. Don’t grab at something just because it seems like the “sure thing.” Especially if it’s got nothing to do with who you really are. Sure things don’t stay that way. Just ask the bankers. Or the folks who were relying on Enron pensions.

What should you change? Change your strategies. Maybe it’s time to take it up a notch at work so people know how valuable you are. Maybe it’s time to spend less of your evening in front of the TV so you can work on things that can help your dreams take flight. Maybe it is time to take well-developed skills into a new industry or new direction in the same industry—or to learn new skills.

You’re the one who knows where things are starting to pinch personally. But to see a better way to address them, you need to stay calm. It’s hard to be calm when they’re announcing layoffs like they usually to announce Saturday night football scores on the ten o’clock news in September.

Be calm anyway. Prayer helps on this. Or meditation. Or just listening to your breath.

It also helps to regularly brainstorm other ways to deal with your current situation. Do this often. I’m always surprised with what comes up. And even more surprised with what comes up when I do it again a few days later. Once I started brainstorming, nursing disappeared from the radar, incidentally. I found some new ways to approach the challenge that I’m so passionate about. More options to try. More “next things” to get to.

Does that solve the problem? No. Having more to do is just, well, more to do. But Edison’s 1000 attempts before successfully inventing the light bulb does hold strong truth. Looking for another way is the way to get through this gracefully.

Learning how to do that gives you something you could never have gained with uninterrupted prosperity. You will gain resilience. And that’s priceless because it will serve you every time something doesn’t go your way. Being able to bounce is a very good thing.

The Terror of Passive Income

The Terror of Passive Income

Most of us have spent our careers looking forward to the day when we don’t have to actively work to have money. The pension. Social Security checks. Investment dividends. Money that comes without us having to continue the daily grind. Just a nice steady income stream whether we spent the week at the beach or working on a Habitat house or helping the oldest grandchild move into a new apartment half way across the county.

Well, that’s the way it was supposed to work anyway.  Right now, this kind of income is probably one of the most terrifying sources of cash flow imaginable.

Because it is, well….passive.  Since what we do isn’t tied to what it does, we don’t have a whole lot of room to make it go in a better direction when the current one is looking downright dire.

Right now it’s so bad that a lot of us are afraid to spend money on anything because the value of our passive sources of income is so wobbly.  This is not comfortable, but it’s important to know.  If we are aware that this possibility is part of the range of performance for passive income, we can build in ways to help ourselves cope when we get to this bumpy part of the road in the future.

We need to know this little secret about passive income as we plan what we want to do with the last third of our lives.  So this downturn has given us another unexpected gift–the chance to feel really deeply the helplessness of not being able to get our money to do a better job.  And feeling that feeling will help us build ourselves some escape routes from here on.

For some of us, it will be a matter of looking for a way to earn again.  For some of us, it’s teaching ourselves to stay calm in the midst of the economic hurricane.  For some of us, it will be refocusing on what’ s important and finding ways to keep going on that with a leaner budget.  And for some of us, it’s an adventure in how to cut costs.

You think I’m kidding on that last one, right?  Nope.  If the passive income situation is leaving you anxious, the most important thing you can do is act.   Taking action to cut the amount of money you need to live on is a good thing to do every once in a while to make sure that you are truly focused on your authentic needs.  So this is a good time to do that.

Notice I did not suggest you suck way in and not do things.  I said evaluate.  I said find a cheaper way to get what you want.  But just plain retreating?  Bad idea!

That makes you feel deprived as well as afraid.  And that’s an invitation to depression and poor health.  This situation is a test of our mettle, individually and as a culture.  The better we are at facing it,  acknowledging the scary feelings, and doing something to improve our situation, the bigger it is as a blessing.

Having investments lose value is awful.  Letting it intimidate you into not living your life is worse.

What’s Your Pain Teaching You?

What’s Your Pain Teaching You?

 

Right now, there’s more than enough pain to go around. The pain of losing a job .The pain of losing your dream home. The pain of being one of the survivors in the all too frequent announcement of yet more downsizing. The pain of watching loved ones go through one or all of these things.

We’ve got plenty of physical pain right now, too. Flare ups of stress-related health problems. Accidents, which just seem to be more prevalent when things are not going well. Colds and the flu hit more frequently when people are under stress, too

Yep. There are a lot of ways we’re “feeling the pain.” And we are probably telling ourselves, “This is not right. I should not have to feel pain.”

That’s only true if you’re dead. There is a reason for pain. It helps you move fast to change what you are doing.

Hand in the car door? Yikes! You changed that fast. Even slow pain helps you learn quicker. Remember your first love and how much it hurt when it ended? You vowed “I’m not doing that again!”  And the next time you probably were a bit more discerning, a little pickier, maybe even a little slower with the “I love you’s.”

How about the pain of doing something physically dumb? Like putting your hand on the oven rack after you’ve had it preheating at 400 degrees for fifteen minutes. Next time you will use the over mitt. Right?

Pain can tell us something needs attention, too. That “hot spot” on your left ankle? Use some moleskin now or you will have a nasty blister by the time you’re done with the hike .The stomach cramps that come when you have yourself convinced that only YOU can do everything remains to be done between now and Easter—of 2010?You’re on an express bus to StressCity. Get off now!

Pain tells us there’s a problem. Maybe it’s physical, like a stone in your shoe. Maybe it’s systemic, like a finance industry gone totally mad. Every time there is pain, there is a chance to deal with a problem. We need to use pain–to help us pay attention to our legitimate problems.

We need to watch for it and wring every single morsel of intelligent action out of it.

The only tragedy in feeling pain is if we don’t change course as a result of the warning. That’s true whether it’s knee surgery or the balance in your checking account. Pain helps you grasp the need to stop doing what you’re doing much more quickly that you would in its absence.  Pain is a good thing.

The bad thing is when we tell ourselves we shouldn’t be feeling it. There is a lot of money going into advertising built around the message that we should never feel pain .We can all eliminate all pain in our lives if we just take the right drugs, buy the right consumer goods, and drive the right cars. With that as a back drop, it’s easy to resent pain instead of embracing it so you can use it.

Pain comes to help us go in a new direction. It hurts—no doubt about that. But that doesn’t make it bad. The pain of childbirth or athletic achievements demonstrate this well. To do what we value, what we dream of, what we think is the most important thing in the world to get done is going to involve pain sometimes. Beats a blinking arrow every time for encouraging a change of course.

Use your pain.You don’t have to love it—in fact if you did, I’d worry. But respect it.It is an honored teacher and a difficult but genuine friend.

The Courage to Keep Going

The Courage to Keep Going

The headlines this morning were of massive lay-offs by prestigous companies.  They aren’t the first.   They will not be the last before we are through this.  For those with jobs, the specter of not having one may have already become a constant companion.  For those without, the statistical likelihood of finding what might even be remotely workable becomes ever slimmer.

If you are retired and on a fixed income, the monsters under the bed have different names.  Can you count on the pension you’re living on?  Will Social Security implode before this is over?  And what are we going to do if the price of gas spikes again?

If you are unable to work and relying on the kindness of others, there are other ogres to face down.  What if the funding get yanked? What if they decide they have to rent the room to someone who can pay?

There’s plenty of anxiety to go around.  It is of no benefit to any of us to succumb to it.  That, however, is easier said than done.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,”  rings in our ears.  But where do we find the courage to face it down?  How can we be sure that if we stay the course, everything will be fine?

This is life not an infomercial.  There are no guarantees.  That doesn’t change the need to keep going.  But there are monsters here and scary things that could do us harm.  How dare we go on?

We must go on.   Because going back or standing still holds every bit as much peril and far less potential.  We go on because doing what we believe needs to be done is not a matter of safety.  It is a matter of character and commitment to something larger, something in which we believe.  Those are the places where we need to lead our bedraggled wagon trains.  Toward the things that matter.

To be sure, some things we’ve been doing need to stop.  Buying beyond our means was foolhardy even in the good times.  Putting things on credit that you didn’t really need was never a winning plan.  Let that go.

Going after “my share” rather than committing to a meaningful purpose needs to go, too.  (All you banks who are sitting on taxpayer money for the sake of your own safety instead of using it to do the work of restarting the economy, listen up.)  “My share” is a childish construct we can’t afford.  Yesterday, there was an article in the local newspaper about a low income program the state was planning to cut.  The related photo showed one of the recipients–smoking a cigarette. Excuse me.  Why are we supporting someone who is literally burning money–and ruining his lungs in the process?

Giving anyone an excuse to do less than they can for themselves is inexcusable, especially in this situation.   And we need to hold ourselves to that same standard.  The first question for every single one of the ubiquitous little (and big) challenges that are being heaped on us is “What can I do about this myself?”

There are two reasons for that.   The first is fairness.  If you haven’t done what you can to improve your situation before taking someone else’s money to fix it, you are a leech.  Period.   (Banks sitting on TARP money, think about that, too, huh?)  We have way too much going wrong to attend to leeches.

The second is when you take care of it yourself, you prove you can.  Even if taking care of it means letting go of a dream or giving up on something you want to keep doing.  We need to step up to our own challenges.  We need to bow to changes life demands of us.

As a nation, we are never going to be able to keep people in homes they couldn’t afford to buy in the first place.  We are never going to be able to assure everyone has the perfect job at the correct wage or even a decent place to sleep.  We are never going to be able to assure that some big company doesn’t find yet another way to be stupid enough to do harm to us all.  But the beauty of this democracy is that we all have the right to make a difference.  And making that difference is where you find the courage to keep going.

Economy Victims or Victors?

Economy Victims or Victors?

 

We’re at the start of a fresh new year, but most of us are still covered with dust from the implosion of financial and commercial institutions we thought we could count on. Maybe it was your mortgage lender. Maybe is was your bank. Maybe it was the company you used to work for. It would be hard to find an American who has not been affected by the violent convulssions of the economy in 2008.

All that makes it easy to feel like a victim, personally and as a society. The economy has done us in. That’s a treacherous path to choose though and it leaves us far short of what we could be getting out of this.This is the furnace from which the steel of our characters can be forged—but not if we simper like a bunch of scared little bunnies and hide under the bed.

Yes, this is hard. And mean. And full of painful choices and real hardships. But no, there is absolutely no truth to the idea that “I shouldn’t have to be dealing with it.”

A real life has ups and downs.The notion that you can proceed from cradle to grave without ever having to experience discomfort is ludicrous. Let go of the Madison Avenue mantra that your life should be perfect and get on with dealing with what’s on your plate. Even if it’s gross and the last thing you want to have to eat.

The benefit of this kind of upheaval is in what you learn you can do that you would never have had to attempt in easier times .Maybe it’s taking in a boarder.Maybe it’s becoming a boarder. Maybe it’s accepting that the dream home has become a nightmare that you have to let go of forever. If you deal with these realities with all the brainpower and willpower you have, your successes will amaze you.

There’s an additional benefit that you won’t see until the rubble from this mess is gone and new horizons bring easier paths again. When you deal with hard things, you gain confidence for dealing with everything else. You acquire a standard of comparison that makes the rest of what life throws at you look really easy. Realizing “If I can do this, I can do anything!” gives you the confidence to do much more with your life.

A second benefit, if you choose to claim it, is an enhanced ability to solve problems effectively. These kinds of situations demand new thinking. “Usual” solutions simply don’t work. That means the typical approach to solving a problem–grab the first thing that looks like it will work and apply it without further evaluation—is out the window. Developing your ability to generate unique options and go in a well-thought, fresh direction will make your problem solving more effective for the rest of your life.

A third way to win from all this is in using it to change how you set your priorities.“Buying mode” is quite often a matter of automatic pilot and following the crowd. You can’t afford that if you job just evaporated—or might. Getting real about what’s genuinely important for you is not only possible but essential in this kind of economic environment.

That sets in motion an even better set of benefits. This “correction” gives you the chance to make your own correction. So many of us work in jobs we hate and live lives that are marginally satisfying because “I need the paycheck.” If it gets yanked away because of all that’s gone wrong in the economy, you get a do-over. Cool. Scary but cool.

Your “new life” may involve a massive redirect in career, living arrangements, priorities, commitments, and community involvement. But it will be more you—and more satisfying. You’d never have attempted it if you’d been able to keep the comfort of what you had going.

Yes, this economy has made us “victims” if we want to claim that status. But that’s wasting a golden opportunity. We can become stronger, wiser, and happier by using what’s going on now to reclaim who we really are and to get back to living according to our own truths and needs. Those kinds of gifts don’t come along very often.

 

How Greed Happens

How Greed Happens

 

How Greed Happens

We have two choices as the US economy convulses. We can point fingers and blame the people most obviously at fault. Or we can get serious about fixing it and admit our own part in this mess.The first option is a victim role—easy and appealing because we’ve given victims an honored place for decades. But it’s not the way out of this mess. To really fix it, we need to understand what made it happen–rather than pointing to a specific “who”–and implement a system of checks and balances so it doesn’t happen again.

This financial debacle is supported by a huge, stinking pile of greed. Greed per Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed.”Yep.We are drowning in a sea of that. It’s not just the sub-prime wizards who are guilty though.

It’s easy to see greed in preposterous CEO salaries. It’s easy to see it in those who “made a killing” selling houses to people who couldn’t afford them. It’s not so easy to see our own greed. But that’s what we have to look at to get this fixed.

Buying things we can’t afford when they’re not essential is greed. Why? Because we’re using that kind of shallow stuff to feel good about ourselves. We think that if we have that, we’ll be “successful.” Martha Beck refers to it as “the shallows” and contends that “the real reason we feel so starved in the shallows is that we aren’t made to be satisfied with material possessions or with concepts of ourselves as famous, noble, smart, handsome, righteous, influential, blah blah blah.”

We are way off track on creating truly satisfying lives for ourselves. Instead of doing what we believe is important, we do whatever makes us money so we can buy stuff. Instead of doing work in which we believe, we sell out so we can keep buying. But filling the hole where meaning belongs with “stuff” is never enough. Or as Matthew Kelly puts it in The Rhythm of Life, “You never can get enough of what you really don’t need.”

What we really do need is a chance to connect fully with other people, a chance to prove our competence in what we do, and a chance to claim our authentic purpose in what we commit our time, effort, and money to. We don’t need the 54” plasma TV. We need to get out there and help someone learn to read. We don’t need a $1000 outfit. We need to find the joy of a real hug.

Greed is a dead end. When we get on that road, we get lost easily. We take the road because it’s got the neon of Madison Avenue pointing the way. It looks “exciting.” But a dead end is a dead end, razzle-dazzle or not. Before we get this mess fixed as a nation, we need to individually chart a better course. We need the high road—of meaning, of integrity, of purpose.

If you are sitting there congratulating yourself because you are debt-free with money in the bank, don’t get too comfy .Martin Luther King warned “Our lives begin the end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

We must say “You’re going the wrong way” to loved ones who are buying things they can’t afford. We need to stop enabling that wrong behavior by giving them money to make ends meet when they can’t. We need to YELL about the self-serving foolishness of offering credit cards to people who are already deeply in debt. There oughtta be a law!

Let’s not assume that this will “correct itself” as lending institutions bear the consequences of their own version of greed—the defaults of the heavily burdened, interest-paying creditors they’ve cultivated–as the credit situation tightens. We need to do our part, too. Say “No” to greed.

We need to get back on the high road of integrity and purpose. The view is nicer, it costs less, there’s more true satisfaction, and you sleep better.

Healthy Savers, Spend!

Healthy Savers, Spend!

This post if for those who spend their time and save their money.  I’ve been pretty adamant that people who don’t have the money to pay for it should stop buying things.  For the rest of you, that seems so elementary you’re probably wondering about my sanity.  Right now, you’re probably hunkered down as if tanks had rolled into town, denying yourself the simplest of pleasures even when you can pay for them.  We need a different strategy from you, too.

If you are 95% sure you will outlive the money you already have put away, please consider spending some of it now.  I know, that sounds like lunacy, but the only way to get the economy going somewhere close to the right direction again is to keep commerce flowing.  The free-wheeling folks with the high credit card balances are going to have to stop, but that doesn’t mean you need to.  Please don’t scrimp on food because it feels like you need to be frugal.  Please don’t decide to forgo the vacation you can afford–especially if you are going somewhere in the United States.    Please don’t avoid buying what you need if you DO have the money to pay for it.

For me, that’s a scary idea.  In any economic downturn, my first and continued strategy is to cut back.  To not buy anything I absolutely can’t do without.   But if I have the wherewithal, I need to look that fear in the eye and go buy something.  And if you have the cash to do it, so do you.

Those of us who’ve been better at making money than spending it are not as conspicuous.  (Who knows how many of us there are?)  We wear five-year old jeans and a worn tee shirt and focus on doing what we enjoy.  Maybe for you it’s reading or working crossword puzzles or hiking.  Maybe it’s volunteering or spending time with family.   Please get out of your wonderfully effective rut and do something bold.  Spend some money. It can make a difference in whether we get back on track as a nation.  Really.

But do not spend it bailing out loved ones who have gotten themselves into credit trouble.  (That’s what a healthy saver would typically do.)  They need to learn the really hard lessons this time around so they stop doing that for good.  Instead, buy something you deserve.  If you do, you win three times.  You get the nice thing, you help improve the nation’s economic chances, and you help that loved one who needs to learn figure it out.

And there’s another benefit in this.  People stay healthier if they can find a way to take action when things aren’t going right.  Wise spending by those who would otherwise pass the money on to grandkids is good action for this dilemma.

If you have money to spare, please make plans to buy something soon.

Wall St….Main St…..and Madison Ave.

Wall St….Main St…..and Madison Ave.

As our economic situation worsens, the finger pointing escalates.  Of course we need to hold Wall Street accountable.  And in a previous post, I noted Main Street, much as the inclination is to pity the individual debtors as “poor victims,” is every bit as much in the wrong.  But there’s another major “road” in this that we are ignoring.  Madison Avenue.

Since I wrote that post about people buying more than they could afford, I’ve been chewing on what contributed to that behavior.  One of the big “what’s” is advertising.   In this culture, the only way to avoid the impact of paid persuasion is to drop out and live in a cave in Mongolia.  The effort to sell us something is everywhere.  My TV news has more ads than content.  (I timed them.)  That is probably true of most of what’s on TV.  There are ads on the bus.  Ads when you log onto your computer.   Big billboards on your way to work.   Ads on taxis.   Schools are even starting to sell ad space on their walls as a way to pay for programs lost to budget cuts.

And of course, there are the big, beautiful glossy ads in magazines.

So what?

Well…that’s a lot of pressure toward thinking that you really need–or worse deserve–all those things.  When there’s been too little time spent figuring what really is important, it’s easy to succumb to that pressure, believing that the magic product just touted will solve his/her need to feel good about him/herself.  It doesn’t.  But the money is spent, sometimes when it wasn’t even available.

So let’s add another street to the map of this disaster.   Madison Avenue is in this, too.  We have way too much advertising in this country and far too few means of giving people the chance and the motivation to define their real purpose for being here.  People who live on purpose don’t need all the “stuff.”  People who live on purpose are healthier.  They are kinder and more open to other points of view.  Why aren’t we selling PURPOSE?

It does, of course, come back to Main Street for a solution.  We still have to live within our means–regardless of their level.    We still need to tell those who spend our money “No” when what they want is not within the budget.  We still need to get creative in making ends meet when the money doesn’t go far enough.  But we also need to learn to stop listening to all those damn ads.

If we did, then the value of a PR compaign would go away. Then. to stay afloat, the PR industry would have to provide a real value instead of encouraging irresponsible behavior.  Welcome to Main Street, Madison Avenue!

Did I Help Create This Mess of an Economy?

Did I Help Create This Mess of an Economy?

Okay….there are some things I could have done differently–you, too, probably.  I want to blame the credit crisis and the financial sector meltdown on somebody else’s mistakes, but is there anything I could have done differently to help avoid it?  Below is my “examination of conscience” if you will.  (Sorry, I was raised Catholic.  These are familiar words in that world.)

  • Did I watch as someone I care about spent money they didn’t have on something they didn’t need?
  • Did I tell someone who’d just used creative financing to buy a home they could not have otherwise afforded “Good for you!”
  • Did I put stuff on my own credit card that I couldn’t pay for when the statement came due?
  • Did I intentionally invest in funds that were supporting the run-up in housing costs via subprime lending because I wanted to “get in on the action”?

The ones who made a business out of stoking this unconscionable fire must be held accountable in big ways.  But those of us who helped in little ways need to take a step back and rework our sense of responsibility, too.

We can all do better: 

  • Learn how credit really works. (You want to be the one receiving interest not paying it.)
  • Teach your loved ones the same thing…and don’t wait until they are adults.  Hold kids and grandkids accountable for money they borrow.  (I’m heartily in favor of having them execute contracts so they learn about that, too.)
  • Speak up when those you love are making bad choices with their credit.  Let then know it’s not a good idea. With love.  With concern.  With conviction. 

We’ve fostered a culture that’s oblivious to the horrendous consequences of spending more than you have coming in.  It’s time to make lemonade from this debacle by turning that around.

If you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it.

Living in a Scary Economic World

Living in a Scary Economic World

What’s happening in the US economy is no longer just the usual unpleasantness of a downturn in the normal economic cycle.  What is happening now is major.  And for those of us who are relying on paying day-to-day expenses from investment income or with pensions from companies now looking at bankruptcy, it is terrifying.  Terror is not a healthy place to live.

Even worse, we are now being required as taxpayers to bail out the people who made the bad decisions that created this mess.  The ones who thought subprime lending was a terrific moneymaker.  The ones who thought loosening the standards for mortgage credit was an intelligent step in a consumer environment that was already overextended.  The ones who blythely told homebuyers eager to move into a dream home well beyond their means “We can get you into this house.”

And yes, the homebuyers who marched blindly down High Rollers Highway believing the real estate agents and mortgage brokers rather than their checkbook balances.   Much as every person who contributed to this mess and made a profit deserves to be flogged, the buyers are not innocent little sheep either.  No one rolled back the requirement that you know what you can afford before you buy a house.  Before you buy anything.

The most frustrating aspect of all this is that we just did it twenty years ago.  How did an entire financial industry forget what we learned then–that it is way too easy to get carried away with selling homes that people cannot afford at prices higher than the homes are worth?  We are smart enough to  put equipment on Mars to look for water but we can’t remember that home prices sometimes go down?  No way can an entire sector of the US economy be that inept.  The fantasy was just too enticing:  this time, prices won’t go down.  Yeah, right.

There’s a lot that went wrong and a lot of people to blame for getting us into this mess.  That doesn’t change the fact that we need to live through it.  How do we do that?

Some of it is a matter of stress management.  Be sure to give yourself a strong and frequent dose of the things that help you be calm.  (Hint: Neither durgs or alcohol are legitimate tools in this quest.)  Walk the dog.  Meditate.  Call a friend who makes you laugh.  Try to keep the stress reduction to dollars spent ratio high.  Forget the day at the spa.  Go watch the sunset instead.

Some of it is basic common sense–like not making any knee-jerk decisions.  Postponing major expenditures when you can is a good idea.  And focus on your health, too.  Good lifestyle choices will make it easier to deal with the stress. but they also make you less likely to need expensive medical procedures.

But just being a spectator about having to pay for this mess as a taxpayer will make your blood boil.  Enduring that unfairness silently is not a good idea.  We need to do something.  And that something is to let “the government”–your senators and congressmen, the President, and whoever you can find an e-mail address for–know just how wrong and unfair this is.  And that we expect a far more equitable and effective solution this time.  The ones who made the mess need to suffer significant negative consequences from it. REALLY significant.

Don’t tell me there’s no legal means to do that.  If the government can justify pawing through my carry-on at the airport, they can find a way to get the money these jerks made during the boom into the Treasury to offset the mess they handed off to us to clean up.  This is not spitefulness.  This is an important piece of getting it right.

People who don’t have to deal with the consequences of their behavior don’t learn from their mistakes.  They do the same stupid things again and again. Then they are the first ones in line when things go wrong because it was so easy to dump the problem in someone else’s lap the last time.

Yes, the government needs to step in.  Yes, putting the taxpayers on the hook to get things stablized is probably unavoidable.  But we can’t let them stop there.  Make some noise.   This is not about an act of nature and people unintentionally in harm’s way.  This is about greed and bad business decisions made by people with annual incomes in the millions.

There is nothing in The Constitution about bailing out people who make bad decisions.  This is a national emergency and warrants those kinds of powers and actions.  That doesn’t mean giving the ones who created it a free pass.  Tell your legislators what you think.  Tell them more than once.  Enough is enough.