Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adam Who?

I'm not a numbers person. They just don't make sense to me. This amuses my very mathematically inclined and analytically minded husband.

"Numbers are just logic." he says. "They never lie, and they never change. They are constant."

Clearly, we are a case study in right brain/left brain disparity. Opposites really do attract, I guess.

I can add and subtract well enough. I can do simple percentages in my head when I need to figure out how much to tip or how much off on a sale item. I can balance a checkbook (although I prefer not to) and I can read a balance sheet.

But anything more complicated than that makes me weak with anxiety. Thankfully, I am not often called upon to perform more complicated feats of numeric dexterity.

Remember how they told us that we'd need Algebra someday?

Scurrilous lies.

At least, to those of us not destined for economics or astrophysics.

I think it's clear pretty early on, how a child is inclined in terms of aptitude. Why oh why do they have to make kids who are right brainers suffer through the torture that is mathematics? Why?

Well perhaps so we can understand it when the foundation of our economic structure crumbles beneath our feet.

I'm not a financeer and don't pretend to be. I don't really understand things like hedge funds, credit default swaps, Ponzi schemes, subprime mortgage securities, and collateralized debt obligations.

But when mortgage companies began offering "non traditional" loans to people who wouldn't otherwise qualify, and carrying a substantial amount of debt became the norm, and suddenly, everybody could afford was not hard to extrapolate that we Americans were building a house of cards that would, eventually be toppled by the shiny dangling charm (oblique Brady Bunch reference for those under forty) of false prosperity.

Economist or not, it's not hard to understand the basic principle behind the economic crisis; greed.

I've been doing a little bit of reading, trying to understand the financial crisis on a deeper level, make sense of the stimulus package, and comprehend the long term implications of a decade or two of greed, excess and entitlement.

I ran across this article.

25 People To Blame For The Financial Crisis.

When I was done reading, I was both elucidated and further confused.

But regardless of the dichotomy, one thing that struck me was the fact that aside from the most high profile names; Alan Greenspan, Bernie Madoff, Dick Fuld, Angelo Mozillo, Hank Paulsen, and a handful of others...I recognized very few of them.

I found it extremely disconcerting, not to mention ironic, that people who have shaped our lives and our futures so profoundly are veritable strangers to us. I say "us", because I'm going to assume I'm not the only one who had no idea who Kathleen Corbett and Phil Gramm are.

As I said, I'm not a financeer or an economist. Not by a long shot.

But I am a common sensiteer. And a plain as the nose on your faceicist.

I think a few general principles need to be put into place if we are ever going to regain our economic equilibrium: Transparency. Accountability. Regulation. Moderation.

The main charge being levelled against Greenspan is his disdain for government involvement in economic matters and the deeply held belief that the key players in the game of craps that is our country's economic structure, as well as the fiscal processes that drive it, can self-regulate.

It has now been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that nothing could be further from the truth.

Deregulation is bad...mmmmkay? SOMEBODY has to be maintaining a system of checks and balances. Otherwise, no name individuals with too much power will continue to screw the people over for personal gain.

I knew greed and rampant self-interest were to blame for our current situation. But until I began really educating myself, I was ignorant of just how profoundly those factor figured into this whole mess.

But you know...I think this had to happen in order for us to wake-up from our collective stupor. This had to happen for a shift in priorities to take place. This had to happen in order for the sense of entitlement that has gripped us to loosen it's hold. And yhis had to happen in order for a public outcry to be made and heard.

Recession is an ugly word. Depression is even uglier.

But I choose to think that in the end, the results will be positive and we will see a return to the fiscal conservatism and personal responsibility that were the hallmarks of more circumspect eras.

I always have been a bit of a Pollyanna, I guess. Maybe that goes hand in hand with sucking at math.


  • At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes, it is mind boggling to try to understand it all. I watched an excellent show called "house of Cards" (msnbc maybe) that covered so much of it. I think one thing many Americans don't seem to grasp is that Congress hold the purse strings and power, not the President. Yesterday President Obama said he wanted to make a change to part of the stimulus package and Barney Frank fired back at the administration Sunday, saying rewriting the executive-compensation provision "is not an option." Kind of blows you away!

  • At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    not the point of your post, but there is a gender component. women often are better at arithmetic and men at higher level math. no idea why.

  • At 9:32 AM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    My grandfather was an actuary, a brilliant mathematical mind...I often wonder what he'd say about this mess.

    It's so hard to wrap my head around all of this, but I try to. Key word there is TRY.

  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    When I lived in a gorgeous suburban neighborhood in a big house, I tried to do the math in my head about the people around us.

    I KNEW we were drowning in debt, so I could not understand how all the people around us were affording $700K houses AND boats AND 2 huge SUVs and 3-week European vacations and they all had kids and were always remodeling their houses.

    It just baffled me. They would breezily say "We took equity out of the house..."

    I thought I was the stupid one because I could not put together in my mind how it was all penciling out for them. It turns out that they were just in deep trouble but did not know it yet.

  • At 5:42 PM, Blogger Girlplustwo said…

    i am all for things getting worse if it takes that for us to collectively get our act together and start acting more responsibly. we can't expect it to happen without great cost, and while many are not at fault, this, like with anything else, will take a village to fix.

  • At 7:47 PM, Blogger Susan Hasbrouck said…

    On a related, side note/suggestion, husband and I have read "The Millionaire Next Door" by Stanley/Danko. Great read. All about how many friends and neighbors are living beyond their means and gives the characteristics of the "average" millionaire. Not what you would guess.

  • At 8:02 PM, Blogger Major Bedhead said…

    Phil Gramm is awful. Be glad you don't know who he is.

    I've been listening to economic podcasts obsessively lately - Planet Money is my favourite, but The Economist has a good one, too. This American Life is going to be doing an entire show on the economy soon. They've done them before - you can listen on their website - and that's what started me in on wanting to know more information about this mess. One is called The Giant Pool Of Money and the other is called Another Frightening Show About The Economy. Fascinating stuff, and I'm not an economist or financier either. Just a pissed off citizen.


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