In light of all the six-step, eight-step and ten-step proposals floating around Washington, I thought I'd offer the following twelve-step program for recovery from the financial crisis:
1. Admitted that we were powerless over our addiction to credit, leverage, derivative swaps and cheap gadgets from China, and that our lives have become unmanageable, not to mention uncreditworthy.
2. Came to believe that a higher power in the form of God, the heads of the central banks or possibly Barack Obama, could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, the central bank chiefs or possibly Barack Obama, not necessarily in that order.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, our credit card statements, our 401(k)'s, our mortgage balances, our house values, and our Christmas list.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being (beginning with our spouses) the exact nature of our spending on lattes at Starbucks, flat-screen TVs, Ipods and trips to the Bahamas.
6. Were entirely ready to have God, the central bank chiefs or possibly Barack Obama remove all these defects of character (provided we can still keep our houses, jobs and cars)
7. Humbly asked any of the above to remove our shortcomings and also forgive us our debts, particularly the $397 we are still paying for that household espresso machine that we never used.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all, except of course for the loan officer we cursed out over the phone and the appraiser who said our house was worth approximately seven times its actual value.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others, especially since it would be useless to apologize to our former boss who we punched out when he laid us off with two hours notice because he's now unemployed himself.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it, especially when we inadvertently told our wife that her IRA is up 25% when it is actually down 125%.
11. Sought through prayer, meditation, whining, begging and pleading to improve our conscious contact with God, the chiefs of the central banks and possibly Barack Obama, praying only for knowledge of Their Will for us and the power to carry that out, with the divine intervention of Chairman Barney Frank and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening -- not to mention a rude financial shock -- as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other credit addicts everywhere and to practice these principles in all our affairs, or at least until the next time a financial bubble comes along.
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