Thursday, October 23, 2008

When did we all turn into whiny little wimps?

As much as I try to keep politics and such out of my mommy brain blog (okay, except for a shot at Obama a few weeks ago I couldn't help but take), lately, about a billion things have happened to me and around me that are getting under my skin. Besides, Mommyworld is the real world, and it's our lives that shape the world our babies will have to clean up someday, so I feel this is still relevant to the blog topic. Due to length and the extent of my frustration, I'm going to do two wicked-long posts. Today's topic is economic wussiness, and tomorrow's is gender wussiness.
A lot of my recent surliness has to do with the media's unrepentant attempt to create a worldwide economic disaster, putting me in a blanket bad mood. Now, I'm not generally the conspiracy-theorist-type, and have been known to relentlessly mock people (okay, husbands that may be married to yours truly) for passing along the latest cover-up forward circulating in the rumor e-mill, but I do believe in this one. I think it is in the media's best interest to induce panic. After all, their money-making is based on viewers, and the more terrified people are, the more they are glued to the screen. Reporting that everything will be okay might make people smile, shrug, then turn off the boob tube to go hug their kids and play a pick-up football game. We can't have that! Further into the conspiracy rabbit hole, if you'll permit me, I really do believe that the mainstream media has a liberal lean, and in times of economic trouble, people tend to turn to the party that supports handing out rich people's cash. I'm sure Barack "Spread the Wealth" Obama has gleaned many followers simply because a diet of government cheese has suddenly felt like a real possiblity to many people looking at their once awesome sub-prime mortgages as ticking time-bombs. Everyone wants to make sure there is enough cheese in the vault for them, should they need it. There won't be, no matter who you vote for, but one party has no qualms about promising the world. At the risk of sounding like Forrest Gump, the best advice I ever got from my mom was "always be wary of advice from someone who has something to gain from your decision." My mom is so smart, and never is that advice more needed than at election time. The liberal press is having a field day, and we're taking the bait.
hook, line, and sinker. The media is doing their best to ensure that every single person within their reach feels vulnerable--"you may be only one paycheck away from that proverbial government cheese, more at 10! "
Maybe you are, and hopefully you aren't, but that's hardly my point.
My point is--we (in the collective sense) are not in a depression. Times are harder than they have been in the past, but welcome to the economic cycle. It happens. I hate math and was a science major, but even I know that there are ups and downs in every economy. We have gotten so used to prosperity that we feel entitled to it. Is there anything that cries out for humbling more than a sense of entitlement? I submit that there is not. How do I know we are not in a depression as of yet? As this site put it so beautifully, a two-hour wait at the Olive Garden on a Friday night is not a sign of depression! We all like to complain about the economy, but until I stop seeing busy salons offering Brazilian bikini-waxes at completely insane prices (as if the wax itself isn't crazy enough), I won't buy the fact that most people don't still have money to burn. The fact that still exists proves otherwise.

Financial instability is scary, but seriously folks, don't look at your financial situation as intimately tied to the current world "crisis" unless it actually is. Daniel pointed out the other day that we are feeling the pinch these days, because of the rough economy. With all due respect to my intelligent husband--we are going on 6 months of one income and are finally to the point that we can not buy everything we feel like whenever we want. The stock market rising and falling has zip, zero, nada to do with that. Yeah, we're shelling out more for groceries in theory, but with eating out less and me being home to cook, clip coupons, and bargain shop, we're actually making out better with food costs. Our situation is not the economy's fault, it's a direct result of my choice to become a full-time mom and we'd be doing some belt-tightening right now even if everyone else was still kicking up their financial heels. Besides, we are hardly in dire straits even with one income, our 401K may be looking a little rough, but the fact that we are still watching Yo Gabba Gabba on cable shows that we are not down to the basics yet!
I'll bet that most of you out there are in the same boat. Bad spending habits or a feeling of liquidity are catching up to people, but for most of my friends and acquaintances that just means not buying the stuff they didn't really have the cash for in the first place. They are giving up a few luxuries, not moving into a cardboard box in downtown Phoenix and yelling incoherently at passersby. No one I know is a stockbroker who lost everything, they wouldn't hang out with people as broke as us anyway.
To be frank, I don't want the government owning my bank, home, and car because a few bad apples tricked good apples into craptastic loans and the whole country went nuts as a result. Panic is the poison, not the economy.
We will be okay. We are Americans and we are tough. We've been through worse, even if the media would like us to believe we haven't. If, as a country, we would have just heeded the advice of the prophet all along to live within our means, we wouldn't be in this mess. I'm convinced that if we start listening now, we can get out again, even if we made it harder on ourselves. We can't dig ourselves out by freaking out and huddling at home in full-on panic mode. We can't get out by sharing the latest "did you hear who went broke?" story, or by yanking our money out of the banks and hiding it under our mattresses. We can't get out by watching the news or screaming at the TV. No one ever got out of a hole by making it deeper--I've yet to meet a person who kept digging and actually got out in China, despite repeated childhood attempts.
It's time to suck it up and clean up our messes, America. We've been trying to get our kids to clean up after themselves, let's show by example this time around. Who is with me?

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