Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hard Times

So, as Obama noted today, what we're seeing is history's final judgment on an economic "philosophy" (con game would be a better term, IMHO, because anyone who didn't "know," didn't want to "know") that began in the Reagan years. The notion that massive tax cuts for the very rich, a refusal to spend tax dollars on national infrastructure or programs that help average people, and a blind faith in "free markets" that puts the frothingest snake-handling fundie to shame has finally played itself out and, well, we are well and truly fucked.

One thing that I spend time remembering, especially as we head (at a mad dash, it seems to me, this year) toward Samhein (with barely a passing glance at Mabon), is that each of us is the descendent of generations and generations and generations of survivors. If you're here, now, in Ram Dass' words, it's because the people from whom you come, your ancestors, unlike so many others, have survived every single, solitary generation since Mitochondrial Eve walked out of Africa with her seven daughters. You come from survivors; you are a survivor.

And you will survive this.

If you owe money, it won't matter if the entity to whom you owe it goes under. They'll sell the right to collect money from you to someone else, maybe at a loss, and you'll need to go on paying.

If you have saved money in a savings account, as long as you have less than $100,000 in any single bank, the United States government will insure it if your bank fails and, as Son said to me today when I was panicking and thinking of taking at least some money out and hiding it, if the FDIC fails, we'll have bigger problems than can be solved by $50,000 or $75,000 in cash.

I am still thinking of converting some savings to pure cash. Here's the calculus. Reasonable people do think that there could be bank failures that the FDIC won't be able to cover. (Hat tip: Atrios. (Who ruined my fucking morning. I am just saying.)) If you pull your cash out and bury it in your yard or hide it in your mattress, you lose the interest income that may have been helping that money to not lose value due to inflation. How much interest do you expect to earn this year? Would you pay that much to know that your money was protected against the once-in-several-generations risk that the FDIC won't be able to give you your money when your bank fails? If so, bury it in your yard. If not, leave it where it is and cross your fingers.

If you've invested uninsured money with a firm that goes under, well, Goddess guard you. Lots of our ancestors worked until the day that they died.

Meanwhile, hunker down. Do what witches always do in tough times. Become invisible. Cut expenditures. If you have a job, keep it. Take that second job to bring in some extra money. You know by now that you have to pay off credit card debt, car debt, student loans, mortgages. You know by now that you need six, and maybe, in these tough times, nine or twelve, month of net income socked away somewhere v safe.

If you're going to need to borrow money sometime in the next year, say for a car loan, expect to have to put a large amount down. Start saving now. Reduce your expectations. Go to school part time and work part time when the student loan doesn't come through. Save up a larger down payment for the house. What? You think your great, great, great, great, many-times-great G/ma didn't make sacrifices? You think you're better than she? You didn't riot in the streets 8 years ago, did you? Here's the inevitable result of letting SCOTUS steal it.

Garden in the Spring and can what you can can (pun!). I'd depend less on freezing, as it relies on energy, which may get spotty. Barter. If you don't have debt and can stockpile, make good decisions about what to stockpile. Wood? Protein? Gold (likely too late)? I'm honestly thinking protein, in the form of dried milk and/or powdered soy, as G/Son is still growing.

And, here's where I'm mad, but what can you stockpile that will be fun? Sustaining? When times get rough, joy has a huge premium. Do you have a musical instrument, a collection of read-aloud poetry, a kaliedoscope? I have an entire case of little seashells, held together by rice paper that dissolves in hot water, and inside the shells are paper flowers that float to the surface when the rice paper dissolves. I have five bookcases full of books that I love. I have a lap cat. I have enough morning glories and datura and black iris and crocus to get through next year. I have yarn to keep me busy for a long time and I have poetry lined up all across the counter in the kitchen.

If you have a job, keep it.

If you have health insurance, have everything done that you can have done, now, before you lose your job or your benefits get cut. Do whatever you can -- exercise, take vitamins, get enough sleep, meditate, stay warm -- to stay healthy right now.

And, especially now as the veil thins, call on your ancestors, those proven survivors, of whose ability to survive you are the living, breathing, DNA-style proof.

And, in November, vote in the manner most calculated to deny the WH to John McCain, who never met a tax cut for the rich that he, and his millionairess wife, didn't love.

Art found here.


nanoboy said...

Hecate, don't bury your cash. It will lose value due to inflation, something that is almost always there, and these days, it's an important problem. I don't know where to tell you to put it, because I'm not a financial guru, but you should consider treasury bonds or something else that is safe. If, somehow, treasury bonds aren't safe, I very much doubt that dollars would be as well.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

And put in a rainwater barrel - a really big one.
We can survive some days without food, but a frcation of that time without water. Us, the animals who share our space, and the plantlife, too.

Terri in Joburg

sott'Eos said...

I second the 'inflation' warning, and think that we are headed for a period of hyperinflation (from which we might not emerge as a cohesive nation) as every realizes how worthless the dollar is in relation to the debts that we have accrued. This will only be made worse if our government decides to 'print' its way out of debt.

I had a conversation with an old neighbor one time, who had lived in Hungary just before WWII. He gave me some advice about preparing for hyperinflation. He said to buy gold, but not ingots, chains (normal think necklace chanins). Every few days you snip off one or two links of chain to buy enough food for a few days. If you convert a 'chunk' of gold into cash, you then watch that cash lose value, daily. You might not be able to buy much gold (it being 'too late'), but if everyone else has only devaluing paper, the sellers will probably value your gold very highly, so you might not need much to keep yourself fed for a few years.

greer said...

The FDIC thing will be the final coffin nail. I'm glad that I've been welfare poor enough in the past to (hopefully) weather this storm. I had seriously decided to look for another job today then I read about the FDIC and decided I could put up with my racist, sexist, Talibaptist boss a little longer.

Moon said...

But what can you stockpile that will be fun? Sustaining?

Ive got the answer to that! Yarn! Glorious yarn!!! I'd rather knit then just about anything

Anne Johnson said...

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And of thy slender store, two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell the one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

beweaver said...

Don't forget the Germans' carrying their paper money in boxes to buy groceries. Paper money won't be worth the paper its' printed on if things really go in the toilet. Buy precious metals or seeds or stock up on water and unperishables. I don't think it will down the toilet, I think though that we have flushed and are watching swirl and somehow we are going to pull it out before it disappears. I have to think that, have to manifest that. Can't afford to focus on the end of all

Lunaea said...

When I think about stockpiling cash, it reminds me of post-Civil War survivors patching the holes in their walls with Confederate bills. Scarlett would tell you that you're better off planting a really big veg garden and a good crop of cotton. I've been stockpiling books all my life, so I'm all set there. As as one of those people with no savings who will need to work to the day I die, it makes all the more sense to keep things around me that keep my spirits up -- stories, music, beauty, furry friends, candlelight and ice cold apple cider...

Persephone said...

Off Topic, but I have to say how much I love Frazetta's illustrations of women. They are beautiful, strong, curvy, powerful, and intelligent.

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