If You Give a Bank a Bailout…

If You Give a Bank a Bailout

If You Give a Bank a Bailout

If you Give a Bank a Bailout, it will probably ask you to leave it alone. It will remind you that it’s a Bank, and it knows what to do with money. So you’ll write a Check and turn your back. And the Bank will redecorate its room.

When you ask it why it refurnished its room, it will tell you that it had to in order to look nice for Investors. And then it will ask you to lower Rates. You’ll ask it why you have to lower Rates, and it will tell you that it’s necessary to restore the flow of Credit. If you mention that the Bailout was supposed to restore the flow of Credit, the Bank will stare awkwardly at its shoes, and mumble something about Toxic Assets.

You’ll ask what a Toxic Asset is. The Bank will start speaking very quickly about Mortgage Backed Securities, Collateralized Mortgage Obligations and Credit Default Swaps. You’ll scratch your head and look confused, so the Bank will try to reassure you. The Bank will tell you that although it’s very complicated, it’s really very safe and provides a very good Return.

You’ll ask how safe, and the Bank will start to blush. It’ll say that it depends.

You’ll ask what it depends on. The Bank will sigh for a moment, and then hem and haw while making vague comments about Over-the-Counter instruments Sub-Prime Borrowers. You’ll ask what THEY are, and the Bank will blush again.

Eventually the Bank will sort of fess up and tell you that those really safe investments might not be so safe, especially if no one is really paying attention to who is on the other end of those Mortgage Backed Securities and Credit Default Swaps. You’ll ask who is paying attention, and the Bank will tell you it is.

At this point you’ll put everything together and ask the Bank the Question its been avoiding: If these Mortgage Thingys and Credit Default Whats-its are safe – so long as someone is paying attention to whomever is on the other end, like the Bank says it has been doing – then why is the Bank in trouble and in need of a Bailout?

When you ask the Question, the bank will turn get angry and start huffing and puffing. It will tell you to stop asking so many questions. It will tell you not to worry about the Past and instead to think about the Present. It will tell you about all the People who aren’t getting car loans and student loans and mortgages. The Bank will tell you to think about all the businesses who aren’t getting loans to expand and grow… or even make Payroll!

The Bank’s argument will distract you and tug at your heartstrings just enough. And when that’s happened, the Bank will probably ask you for another Bailout. And a ride to the Interior Decorator’s on your way out of town to leave it alone.

The Real Mary Sunday School Class 3

Mary & Jesus 3OK, so I promised I’d answer the question, How do we pray and live out this story of physical liberation when we are not physically oppressed? This is something that’s been on my mind lately. During the Class, we wrestled with this. A few days earlier our home group/church (I’ll start talking about this soon… once I get back into a rhythm here.) went through a few passages of Scripture where the cry for liberation was also expressed, and we, too, struggled to identify with the cry. After all, we are by any sensible standard wealthy and free living in the USA. We suffer no great oppression; truth be told, we don’t suffer much of anything. So, how do we appropriate (Pardon the verb.) these passages and work them into our faith and Jesus-following? Continue reading

Time Is the Most Valuable Asset

I’m a casual NFL fan. I play fantasy football in order be the soccer guy who shows up the football guys. I flip on the Sunday games much to the distress of Samantha, because they make for light relaxation.

That said, I LOVE Tuesday Morning Quarterback, the weekly Page 2 column by Gregg Easterbrook. The NFL is just one of the many topics he covers in a given week, and this week he nails it:

“The Progress Paradox” [written by Easterbrook] first argues that nearly every aspect of Western life is improving, then speculates about why “life gets better but people feel worse.” A recent study by researchers including Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, and Alan Kruger, one of the leading names in behavioral economics, adds new detail on that question. The study found that the well-off are no happier than others; that as income rises, so does tension and anger; that “people exaggerate the contribution of income to happiness.”

Kahneman, Krueger and their collaborators also offer a vital insight — that happiness comes from choosing time over money, but most Americans choose money over time. “Leisure is better for happiness than increased income,” they argue, supposing that time spent in travel, having new experiences, relaxing, hiking, reading, or simply looking up at the stars is more important to our sense of well-being than a new car or impressive house. Unless you are in a bad financial situation, Kahneman and Krueger recommend you spend less time working, accept somewhat lower income, and use your freed hours to experience life. Barbara Bush memorably said that no one on his or her deathbed has ever regretted not staying later at the office, while many regret failing to spend more time with family and friends.

I’ll add another suggestion on why time is more important to happiness than money: Because time is far more precious. Money that has been used up can be replaced; you can always get at least some additional money, and in principle can get huge amounts of additional money. Your time on Earth, on the other hand, is limited and irreplaceable. You might add somewhat to your time on Earth by taking care of your health — and that’s an excellent idea, but there are no guarantees you won’t be hit by a bus anyway. We all must surrender some of our time for work to acquire income. But those who obsessively chase maximum material possessions give up something precious and fleeting, namely time, in order to acquire something that cannot make them happy, namely money.

‘Nuff said.

Light the Night with a Bald Man

Light the Night with a Bald ManHey folks. Each year I participate in the Light the Night Walk to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Well, the walk is coming up at the end of the week, and I thought I’d try my hand at a little last minute on line fund raising.

Full details can be found over at Baldiness.com, one of my b5media blogs. Or, you can jump straight to my online donation page.

I’m offering to match $1 for every donor who contributes at least $5, up to $100 total out of my pocket. Here’s hoping you can tap me out before the week ends.

[UPDATE] For those of you who would like to participate, but don’t want to use you’re credit card, you can send me a donation via Paypal. My Paypal email is coryaldrich [at] gmail [dot] com. Be sure to put a note that this is for “Light the Night.”

Week In Review – Proper 6

OK, first things first. Before you go thinking I’m completely narcissistic, I realize most of you don’t care all that much about the mundane of my life. Don’t go looking for anything profound in these “Week In Review” posts. I’m just sorting through the last seven days.

Also, don’t expect any commentary on the Lectionary. If it happens, it will be a bonus. I’m just using the designation to mark off the calendar. Occasionally I get the itch to write something directly related to the readings, and when that happens they will have their own post.

So, what’s this week been like? In a word: Blue. I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. The fact that Samantha and Jake have both had the chicken pox hasn’t helped. I should be on a World Cup high, but no. I’m blue.

Two minor personal epiphanies this week. First, I figured out why our cash flow goes to crap every Memorial Day but not every Groundhog Day. We’ve been no more able to keep to a budget, but we don’t have the windfalls, like tax returns, to hide our shortcomings. Doesn’t really provide a solution; just understanding.

Second, I am realizing more and more that I need order in both my space and my time. I’m not sure how to create that in the chaos of life… while still allowing for the chaos of creativity. But I’ve got to try.

So, that’s it for tonight. Here’s hoping my demeanor turns upward.