My year begins with optimism for change for the better, and worry because the economy is deteriorating. Since retiring I've been a full time artist and writer, living on savings and investments, and like most of my friends, taken a finanical hit this last year. I've lived through quite a few recessions, but nothing like this one. So my recent epigrams have tended to the financial:
"It's the sure things that turn out really badly."
This came to mind reading the article in the Sunday Jan. 4 New York Times magazine on how the masters of the universe evaluated risk. The math geniuses, the "quants," investment banks, hedge funds, all used a formula that proved they wouldn't lose money. Trillions of loss later, they are debating whether the formula was flawed.
"Alchemy didn't disappear, it was transmuted into economics."
I've always wanted to use the word transmuted. Regarding economists:
"The only rule of the blame game is to never accept it."
Now that the American consumer is being blamed for crashing the economy by not consuming, a lot of us are rethinking this business of being consumers at all. Consumption, for many of us, means taking on debt we can't get out from under:
"Your list of things that are worth having to work hard for should be very short."
There was a lot of blather from the candidates about saving the middle-class -- implying that the average person is middle-class, which is hardly the case.
"America is a country with a modest middle-class, and a much larger working-class who have been led to believe that they belong to it."
There, I've said them, the words no American politician seems capable of uttering, the working-class. If you live from paycheck to paycheck, and the vast vast majority do, you are not middle-class, you are working-class. Oh, oh, I am starting to foam at the mouth...
"The best way to keep your blood pressure down is not to think about the government very much."
Now that I've gotten us thoroughly depressed, I will offer the optimism I promised at the start, an epigram for a better year:
"Happiness is that cheap drug that can be plucked from the air."
Causes Michael Lipsey Supports
Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Nature Conservancy