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|Easy Money - Page 2|
Record-breaking job losses, savings wiped out, families losing their homes, stomach-churning drops in the stock market, banks failing—it all had a familiar ring. Wasn't this the very nightmare that had traumatized our parents and grandparents, the nightmare they kept harping on, tiresomely reinvoking, the blah-blah-blah we kept brushing off as something that could have been avoided by those people back then if only they'd been a little less stupid? The Depression had marked them for life, rigidified their fear and trembling, and turned them into the timid and conservative non-risk-takers that most of them became. Was 2008 telling us that they were right, that living a circumscribed life was actually not only the safest but the wisest way to live? Hadn't they spent their lives endlessly reminding us that certain things—like gambling on the stock market—were for rich people, not us? How many stories and fables and movies and books and historical precedents had been shoved down our throats that we failed to remember or heed?
The Emperor has no clothes, dammit. Never did. Never will. In a way, we'd never grown up. Our guards lowered, blindly—stupidly—trusting, we were, let's face it, children, eager to be blissfully seduced by the ever-sweeter melodies we heard being played by the Pied Piper of our times: the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And by not listening to or learning from all those cautionary tales, we wound up repeating history—except in this installment, we've managed to lose more money in a few months than most of our parents made in their entire lives.
Reassuringly, the current economic mess isn't one we find only ourselves in. Unlike most mistakes we make in life, this one isn't the result of a misguided individual decision. It's not just "me," thank God. Everybody fucked up. The whole world fucked up. It's a lot easier to deal with "I'm poorer" when almost everyone you know is saying the same thing. Misery certainly loves company, yet at the same time, it's terribly frightening that everyone's an idiot; that the people we thought were taking care
It's insane, isn't it? How so much of our lives is spent in the pursuit of money—working insane hours in order to get it in order to buy things or in order to feel "secure" (about being able to buy things in the future) or to feel a sense of accomplishment or self-esteem? And how crippling—how all-encompassing—our worries are when the money we have isn't enough (is it ever enough?) to achieve those goals. But most of all, it's insane how little attention we paid to preserving, or understanding how to preserve, the very thing we spend most of our lives pursuing, and how we put our trust and our futures in the hands of people whose competence has been proven to be so questionable.