Wednesday, October 29, 2008

six days away

The election is coming, so they say. Mr. Obama has been running for 21 months. Mr. McCain has been running, on and off, for eight years. The decisions, soon to be made by millions of Americans, some of whom have already completed the task, is less than a week away.

In many ways people have to decide if they want to protect themselves, their won interests and their own money, or they want o feel that they are a part of a larger society in which each of us has some relationship, and some important interactions with each other.

This economic melt-down is, to a large degree, the result of people not looking at, and not caring about, the consequences their actions may have upon the welfare of others. They trusted that their attempts to make money were basically honest, and although the things they did were risky, they didn't look, understand, or ever think about how inter-related we all are. There was all this talk about some kind of "invisible hand" running through free markets, and that would make everything balance, and determine a real and fair value of things.

Obviously, there were many flaws in that kind of thinking, just as their are flaws in "trickle-down economics."

America is a land of opportunity, but it can also be a very harsh place for those who slip and fall, or for those who never had the chance to stand up in the first place.

Should we look around and care about each other, even if it is at some cost to ourselves? Or, if we each do the best we can for ourselves, will things work out as they should?

To some extent, the people will decide.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The leaves, and times, are changing

Today was one of those days that they put in movies about New England. The was HD clear after the night's rain, the sky was a perfect autumn blue. The temperature was actually warmer than it should be, but no one complained. Here in Southern N. E. the leaves are at their peak, and because of the right amount of rain and temperature changes this is a good year for color. There are reds, yellows, orange, brown and even purple mixed against some still green. My neighborhood has big old trees, maple, oak, beech and pine, with occasional sassafras, walnut, tulip and even willow. The trees reach way up into the blue, each with it's own vibrant color.

As we walked we met other neighbors walking. We talked of the coming election, which seems like it will never come. Everyone in this small city is of the same mind on the election. We talk of the economy, and joke about keeping our jobs for another decade. Who really wanted to retire anyway? Some of these folks had real jobs and made real money. Some of them have retired. In some ways the great stock market crash represents huge changes in numbers, but no real change in the current lifestyle. But everyone knows that things a are different, and we will not be as plush as we had planned.

One friend, who does business in Europe said that the bad times have hit there hard now. The world blames the credit crazy U.S. for giving and then selling so many bad loans. But everybody bought them and tried to get rich. Now everyone is getting poor. Some much poorer than others.

For us older folks, there is some sense that we have been through some of this. We are not old enough to have been part of the depression of the 30s, but old enough to know that bubbles burst.

It just seems that the bubbles build and burst at a much faster rate now. People seem to be waiting around for the next one to begin. The idea of a slow, steady rise in the economy, based on real products and real work has not really taken hold yet.

Maybe new, "Green Energy" will sweep us up in a new wave of progress and everyone can ride that train back to wealth and consumption.

Or maybe not. Perhaps we will all be poor for a while, and stay home, have conversations and get to know each other.

But that's just an old man talking. Most of us will run around and keep in touch through text messages:
"2 late"

Friday, October 24, 2008

all fall down

I was away from blogging for almost a month. Why? Because there was too much else going on. Just one thing after another that needed to be taken care of. When I was done with all that my brain didn't have too many creative neurons firing. I went to bed.

I had to pay the bills for my practice, the bills for the house, and now the bills for my fading father-in-law. The car needed to be taken care of, so did my wife's car, not that I can do the work, but I had to drive it up and back. The house is being worked on and one day two guys were standing on the scaffold and staring right in on my desk.

Mr new doctor seems to question everything about my health. I have taken more tests than ever before, and I'm OK, just poorer. One wonders about why our health care is so expensive. "Just want to be sure." I wonder if it is my health, his pocket, or the lawyers he is really worried about.

I had to see my clients, see my kids and listen to my father-in-law not make sense and my wife get upset about it. I don't make much sense and she doesn't seem to care.

I took time to watch the leaves change color.

I did a bit to keep Obama moving in the right direction.

BUT, my life is a breeze compared to what I hear in my office, and usually my clients are not the ones who are the most lost, disorganized and overwhelmed, but they have to deal with people who are. A's mother is on cocaine and three months behind in her rent. B's brother is locked in a room and won't come out. C's sister came to live with her because her house has mold. Now she hasn't paid any rent, hasn't cleaned the room and disappears every weekend without any explanation. D's daughter has been suspened from school for fighting, three times.

This doesn't count all the illness that are impossible to deal with, Parkinson's Huntington's, ALS. These are the kinds of things tahat just suck life out of a whole family.

I hear about so many houses that haven't been cleaned in months, so many bills hat haven't been paid that people stop trying, so many lawns that haven't been mowed, so many roofs that haven't been fixed. Things are falling down.

It seems to me, and I've been doing this a while, that the pace of life, the price of life, and demands of keeping up have increased, partly because of technology, to the point where people can't keep up, and are dropping out.

Even without this financial mess, I think it's worse than it was, but maybe I'm just getting old.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Been so Long

Look at that. I just looked at the date of my last post and it was almost a month ago. I would have said maybe two weeks. It's amazing how life gets filled up with all kinds of stuff. I had even told myself that it would be good for my brain to keep writing often, but so much for my brain.

I have spent time having parts of my body poked and measured and scoped. Despite all their best efforts, and they really seem to be trying, they haven't found anything wrong with me yet. That's what you get for going to see a doctor.

I have also been doing what I said and trying to help the Obama campaign. The actual work I do has not been that meaningful. He has not yet called me to help do his mental health policy, although he should. I will lobby for that after I see that he wins.

I hope you noticed that the Mental Health Parity bill got stuck into the Huge Economic Recovery Package. It will be a slight help, although insurance companies will find ways around it. They didn't designate $770 million for mental health. They should have, as clearly everyone involved with this mess is nuts.

For me, the trouble mainly goes back to Reagan. It was he and his conservative crowd that decided that the purpose of America was to give everyone the opportunity to get rich. That was the only purpose. How anyone made money, how much it destroyed other people, other countries or the other values and fabric of our own society were not questions anyone even considered.

Also, those conservatives were the ones who began to target liberals as having useless tax and spend policies. While those criticisms were on target in some respects, what those people put in place were spend and spend policies. It has been the conservatives, and G W Bush more than anyone in history, who just spend money and build huge deficits. They created a climate of unregulated greed and here we are.

So, I am holding on to hope for the next couple of weeks. There are about 35% of the people would vote for the Republicans even if Sarah Palin herself were running. It does seem that for now, the independents and the often undecided voters have had enough of war, bad health care, a crappy economy, and watching this country fall into chaos and decline.

Even my most moribund clients are taking notice in this election. Only the ones who are chronically bitter and angry seem to be for McCain.