When the stock market first tanked and everyone began to panic, I was right there near the head of the line. Apparently I had unknowingly put my money in something called "The Ever Growing List Of Failures Fund."
I was advised that while these stocks might recover one day, sadly that day wasn't likely to come during my lifetime. So the message seemed to be that while gold can't tarnish, golden years can.
Then after the dust settled, the bailouts began. Our tax dollars were put to work. Companies that were too big to fail -- most of which already had -- were given huge sums by the government to stay afloat. In the world of big dollar economics, apparently floating and drifting aimlessly are the same thing.
"How do you feel about the bailouts?," became cocktail party chatter. BYOB cocktail parties, but social gatherings nonetheless. Everyone had an opinion. And the people who knew the least about banking, investing or economics in general talked the loudest. That's, of course, when I spoke up.
I said that I felt like a soldier on a battlefield who'd been shot and was lying on the ground bleeding profusely from a massive chest wound. However, I was conscious enough to see my own medics rushing past me on the way to see if the guys who shot me needed any help.
I think we all felt a little bit like that.
A very smart friend who's an actual important economist explained why these bailouts absolutely had to happen. She knew it was a bitter pill for all taxpayers to swallow, but she was emphatic that it was the right course of action. Kindly, she put her explanation into very simple Sesame Street language so that I would understand it. I told her that I did.
Now the A.I.G. executives are using our money to reward themselves for doing a horrible job. Stings a little doesn't it?
So I've revised my story.
I'm still in pain and still bleeding but now, held together by bandages and limping along with a crutch in one hand and a tray of drinks that I paid for in another, I'm working at an A.I.G. cocktail party as an unpaid waiter. Oh, yeah -- there's a big banner in the room that reads, "I Can't Believe We Pulled This Off."
I'm guessing we all feel a bit like that.
So what's next?
If the current "no strings attached bailout" mentality continues, I'm guessing that we'll lose our jobs working the celebratory parties of corporate America and find ourselves chained in the basements of their high rise towers waiting to be crushed to death by the weight of their huge executive desks and massive egos.
A.I.Gee I hope not.