Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The American Myth

Once upon a time there was a land of plenty and it was called America.

For more than a century, America held its brilliant torch high and boldly announced to the world: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”, never believing that many of its very own could work hard and become just that: tired, poor, homeless and tempest-tossed.

On its maiden voyage to America in 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg. The grand ship’s SOS distress signal swiftly surrendered to the sea along with 68% of her passengers. This tragedy sadly pales in comparison to today’s economic Titanic which has collided head-on with the massive iceberg effects of deregulation, and is swiftly sinking – nose down and props up in stink bug position.

America’s economic ship began to visibly take on water as deregulation seeped throughout the energy and utility sectors, and we got our first real glimpse of the end with the Enron fiasco in 2001. As the systematic deregulation of our financial systems surged forth, monopolies steadily squeezed out healthy competition and the notion of self-regulation proved to be oxymoronic.

Many of the economy passengers on board America’s modern-day Titanic have already been tossed overboard and feel abandoned, with new ones joining them under water every day. They appear to have little choice but to desperately cling to the side of the sinking ship.

With this changing of the tide have come the waves of opportunistic bottom feeders, rising to the surface, intent to prey upon those desperately holding on in order to benefit financially from their misfortune by offering the empty promise of a life raft…for a non-refundable, no guarantees, paid-up-front-and-in-advance fee, of course.

The overwhelming eruption of various niche scams designed solely to take advantage of our current economic SOS - restructuring, modification, workout, and employment recruiting services that expect payment of substantial up-front fees and premeditatively provide little but hollow promises - reveals an unsettling lack of social cohesiveness or sense of community, let alone any rudimentary compassion for the suffering of another.

Some might simply dismiss this as just another face, or extension, of the very greed that created the crisis to begin with.

In the rear view mirror we can plainly see how Black Tuesday on October 29, 1929 ushered in a decade long Great Depression which bred a survival psychosis of holocaustic proportions that permeated core belief systems at a cellular level for the next 3 generations.

Should history prove itself an accurate gauge, it would stand to reason that the emotional repercussions of today’s Great Depression will likewise deeply influence the core belief systems of generations to come. The immediate effects of the now emerging survival psychology will undoubtedly result in the loss of an entire generation of 30 to 40-something investors who’ll no longer trust the broken system, let alone choose to invest in it.

While this lost generation of investors may cautiously elect to opt out of what used to be considered the American dream, they’re still indisputably left carrying the bulk of today’s economic collapse and financial crisis on their backs.

What do you believe is worth investing in today?

For more ways to think rich, see our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ December 28, 2008 posting “Why Bernie Made Off With 2008".

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