Rob's Soapbox Archives
January 11th, 2010
THERE ARE NO RAINY DAYS
If the economic crisis of our time has taught me anything it’s this; spend my money.
I have never been a believer in the “better safe than sorry” mentality in any walk of life. Better safe than sorry sounds to me like a coward’s mantra. Not only that, it furthers our society’s asinine belief that mistakes are bad; it is through my mistakes and missteps that I have learned the most. I would much rather be sorry than to have played life so safe that I never took chances.
Financially, such creeds translate to “saving money for a rainy day.” I have never in my life understood why anyone would work their ass off and then not spend their money. Have these people never heard of death? There are few guarantees in life, death being one of them; dying with a bank account filled with money is a life wasted.
As we begin a new year and a new decade we sit as a nation not on the tail-end of a financial crisis but on the precipice of a total economic disaster. Whether or not you personally feel it, believe it, or understand it, this nation’s economy is in dire straits and is headed for monetary Armageddon. As has been the script for the past year, there will be occasional reports of good news, followed by horrendous news that is not widely reported. Politicians and media blabberheads will talk about the recovery of our economy and barely mention the nation’s debt, which will ultimately ruin us. Most of you will roll your eyes and ignore the news because you don’t understand it. Some of us will roll our eyes and ignore the news because we know there’s not much we can do to change it; either way the giant meteor is coming. I liken our current economic situation to reports of an enormous asteroid or some other rock formation hurtling towards Earth; what are we going to do? We’re all going to close our eyes and hope that it misses us or that Bruce Willis finds a way to rescue us.
Don’t ask me when we will spiral into Thunderdome because predicting these things is an inexact science at best. You will recall that in early 2006 I told you everything was slowing down and hard times were coming; I didn’t know then that the collapse wouldn’t occur for another 2 years, but I did know the collapse was coming. A society can only live on a financial house built of sand for so long. Sadly, we have done almost nothing as a country to actually solve our economic problems and unless drastic policy changes are made very quickly we will soon see a world where the American dollar is near worthless.
So why save them?
Over the past 18 months of soaring unemployment and worsening economic conditions across the country I have found myself more and more often looking around my home and loving my life more than usual; after all, my wife and I own everything we have, except of course of our house and our cars which are essentially worthless anyways. We carry no credit debt and live in a beautiful home filled with overpriced, lavish, expensive toys and furniture; just the way we like it. Had I lived by the motto of “saving for a rainy day” we would have much less; literally and figuratively. How do you think those people who spent the last two decades “saving for a rainy day” feel now that their fortunes have been wiped out? Imagine having an IRA or 401K valued at $500,000 in 2005 and thinking you were heading for easy street, only to wake up to a net worth of a few thousand dollars. Good thing you saved all of that money, eh?
For two decades I have pointed out that people get hit by busses every day. Would a bank account with a ton of zeroes and commas in it have saved them from the bus? Now, we must add in not just the inevitability of the unpredictable, but also the certainty of the foreseeable; not only could any of us die tomorrow, we almost all will feel economic ruin shortly. Saying it ain’t so, hoping for a different outcome, choosing to not understand it, calling people hysterical and/or praying for Bruce Willis doesn’t change the reality of our situation.
So what to do? I say spend and enjoy life.
I have long said that I work way too hard to not play equally as hard. Whatever it is that you define as enjoyment should be relished in these times; not eliminated or scaled back.
To those of you who feel some sort of dopey, antiquated obligation to “put money away for your children,” I say grow up. The point of raising children is to turn them into adults, not circus freaks with a safety net below them. Besides, what good is a nest egg of worthless money anyways? Your children will need to adapt and overcome to the new reality they will face, just as all of us have done time and again in our own lives.
To those of you scared of what lies ahead, I also say grow up. Fear is for the pathetic, preparation is for the strong. Saving your money will prevent nothing; enjoying your life will reap everlasting peace. In the end, when all is said and done and the world is crashing down around you, do you want to look back on your life and count missed opportunities and regret, or do you want to smile at the memories you created by living?
The current economic crisis is a philosophical gift to us all; it is a reminder of life’s frailties and uncertainties and the necessity for self-interest. I am not suggesting that you irresponsibly drown yourself in debt; rather I am encouraging you to spend the money you have on the things that make you smile. Given the current state of our nation, might I suggest purchasing a few guns and taking some safety and shooting lessons? Few things in life are as empowering as the feel of a Beretta between your hands. Another buying suggestion would be gold, silver and diamonds; they sparkle, which makes people smile and they’ll never be worthless, which makes you a leg up on a destitute society. While you’re at it, buy a couple of really big dogs and train them to snarl. Dogs are fun.
You see? Life is all about enjoyment and a little preparation. See ya in Thunderdome.