Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Candy Store Generation, Part 4 - The Panic of 2008

Fast forward to the last four months of the Bush Administration, and the Panic of 2008. The economy was already in a downturn, and had been for some months. We all got a stimulus check, a return of our tax money, earlier in 2008. So we already knew things were going downhill.

Then banks that were "too big to fail" started to fail. We learned they were "too big to allow to fail"--or so we were told. How many billions of dollars were authorized or appropriated to rescue failing banks? Was it $700 billion? I think the earlier stimulus bill was about $300 billion, so that put us at a trillion dollars, spent or authorized, to prop up an ailing economy.

Of course, we weren't through yet. Bail-out of the United Auto Workers at General Motors and Chrysler was to come, a paltry $20 billion or so. Then there's the next stimulus package, passed in the early days of the Obama administration. There's no telling where that ended up. No one read the bill in any of its several versions. $800 billion is the best guess, but it might be a hundred more.

So we are up to about $2 trillion dollars of spending, give or take a couple of hundred billion, either already done or fixin' to be done, to keep our economy from going into a depression. We, the Baby Boomers in control of Congress, the Baby Boomers who are running the corporations, the Baby Boomers who are filling the majority of places in the work force and beginning to creep to retirement age (the oldest of our group are already there) have done this. Where did we get the money? Did we have it, stashed in a failing bank? Was it buried in a field? Of course, no. We manufactured it out of thin air. We are either going to print it or borrow it. Borrowing we are familiar with, since we've done so much of it over the years. Printing money is kind of new, but we are willing to try it. Call it "Instant Money".

And, typical of the Baby Boomers, the Candy Store Generation, we are not looking far enough ahead to think about how we will pay the bill for debt service when it comes due. We'll no doubt piddle around with it over the next ten years, but really the bill will be paid by the next generation, the Gen X-ers as they are called, or maybe even the ones after them, Generation Y. One of these groups will eventually take real steps to fix everything. That will be when the bills come due and the taxes need to be raised to pay them and they will stand up and say "had enough." Had enough of borrowing. Had enough of confiscatory taxation. Had enough of these lame-brained Baby Boomer schemes to continuously live off other people's money. And they will be called the "Had Enough" Generation.

I don't know if I'll live to see the Had Enough Generation clean up the mess the Candy Store Generation has made. It's a good sized mess. Candy wrappers everywhere. Failing social programs. Failing retirement programs (i.e. Social Security, which we wouldn't fix for our children so long as it still worked for us). Expansion of rights based on prosperity not on what God gave us. Unrealistic expectations suddenly crashing down around us. A debt amassed that no reasonable bank would loan proportionately to any corporation or individual. We've sure made a mess that we're leaving the Had Enough-ers to clean up.

I guess "The Greatest Generation" didn't teach us too good.

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