Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Corruption of an Economy

Over the course of the last thirty or forty years, this country's corporate leadership has declined into a cellar of corruption. CEO's have moved from corporation to corporation, bank to bank leaving behind a culture of corporate slime that has not been seen since the late 19th Century. Corporate boards have rewarded these people with millions of dollars and they, in turn, have passed the riches on to their yes men and women, until they all wallowed in the mire of ill-gotten gains.

Then, suddenly, the house of cards began to crumble. With it went the economy and the lives of millions, whom the corporate gurus had convinced that they held the key to the golden fleece. The banks and stock houses had feasted upon the greed of what had become the American way. Cruises, around the world vacations, second homes, luxury cars, and extravagant homes became the norm for millions of Americans. Their 401k's, they were convinced, were their tickets to an early retirement and a wealthy lifestyle. Heck, invest heavily, they told their kids. You'll be a millionaire by the time you are fifty. It's all so easy, just rely on your stock broker. The stock market will always be there for you.

Guess what? It ain't necessarily so. The 401k's have disappeared. Companies dissolved their retirement systems over the last several years, because so many workers thought they could never lose with a 401k. Millions, who thought they were on easy street are either back working or desperately trying to find a job. Others now know that they cannot retire any time soon.

Greed will turn on you before you know it. Here in my home county several folks, who had become millionaires or were in the process, they thought, of becoming millionaires, may be almost homeless in a short time. The past two weeks have brought an amazing group of foreclosures. Some people, who had made their fortunes by purchasing large tracts of land and developing them, could not be satisfied with what they had made. They wanted more. Now, it appears, they may be happy if they still have a shirt to wear and a car to live in. One fellow sold a million dollars of stock to pay the interest on a project, only to have foreclosure still staring him in the face. Someone, who recently saw him remarked that the gentleman had lost an alarming amount of weight.

This scenario is being played out across the country. Too many had thrown caution to the wind, put all their money in the stock market or some other, get rich quick scheme, and expected a life of leisure. Now, they are not sure if they can afford their next meal.

The government is desperately trying to find the key to unlock the door to the solution. Maybe it is in the stimulus plan. The political finger pointing and blame laying is going strong in Washington. Whose fault is it that AIG's people payed out bonuses? Who knew what and when? The fake outrage is in vogue. Those, who just a few months ago were defending CEO's, now want them shot. Those, who passed bills allowing corporate greed, can not believe that such a thing happened.

We will wade through this as a nation. It will not be easy. Those who deserve their fortunes will still have them because they knew how to manage. Those who lose everything will start a new scheme to make it back. Few of us will resume our extravagant lifestyles. We will do as our fathers and grandfathers did, and save our hard earned money. We will not be millionaires, but we will have a roof on our heads and food on our tables. We will not go to Tahiti or Paris every year, so we can brag to our friends. Instead we will go back to the Red Neck riviera or the Great Smokies, or Yellowstone. We will learn to be happy with what we have and not lust after the gold at the end of the rainbow. We will do this won't we? I'm not sure many of us can be content with what our fathers and grandfathers had. Not in today's world.

1 comment:

Diane J Standiford said...

I have always been content with little. I am rich in friends, love, and all the beautiful nature around me. Some people will never feel wealthy, never---I pity them. I do have faith that the majority of people know what is true value; or our society would have perished by now.