Every morning in the car, I tune in happily to NPR. There is something satisfying and grounding about this habit. Sometimes the drive includes a stop for a soy chai but most of the time it’s just the straight shot from my house with Renee Montaigne.
Last week they aired a special forum held in York, PA with people who would represent the demographics of the town talking about the presidential election. Attendees answered honestly over their reservations (read “moments of uncomfortable silence”). Another afternoon, I heard a short memoir narrative of a man recounting the “hurricane parties” they would throw while growing up in South Texas when he was a boy. All the neighbors would come over for bar-b-que, potato salad and beer. He described the cake having the name of the hurricane spelled out in icing. Now living in Massachusetts, he shared this story to help others think twice about the people who wait out the storms. He pointed to their great propensity for hope.
This morning however, I was thinking again about the economy, as I’ve been watching Lehman Brothers through the headlines the way I would track the movements of Hurricane Ike. Today’s news of Merrill Lynch being bought out by Bank of America left me curious again at the workings of our free market society. But what floored me was the government’s decision to loan $85 billion to A-I-G so they would not further disrupt our fragile economy. Wow. My brain started firing lots of questions, primarily, where will the money come from? What about other companies that have yet to bleed out their ensuing failures? Is another non-American company going to have another opportunity of owning more of America if more companies continue failing? We are the melting pot, yes, but what if the pot tips over and spills into the ocean that now separates us from East Asia?
This makes me think of church planting. And decision-making. And the rise and fall of civilizations. I am all in favor that sometimes things have to die. It’s a cycle of nature. We expect it in each other, so why don’t we expect it in the organizations and companies that have become so familiar? Business involves levels of risk, but it also involves levels of leadership. How does it get that bad without someone pulling the string to sound the whistle? We are in a bear market and various economists this morning cautioned that it will continue to get worse before it gets better, but my favorite was the voice who intoned that “if you are living within your means, you should pull through fine.” Within your means has such different definitions for Americans, doesn’t it?
My head then went to thinking about my friend Scucchi. She has always been so precise with her finances, always so clear about her decisions. The risks she makes have been reviewed from many angles and make sense. I would vote for her in a heartbeat as President of the United States, and that’s not even getting into her foreign policy know-how.
But I digress. Tonight, I sat at a coffeehouse revising poems and happened upon an early draft of a poem entitled “american dream”. This new financial situation we find ourselves in factored into a poem where its importance had been minimal before, but now had expanded.
Thank God for Warren Buffett and the prophets reading the wall during doomsday forecasts, bequeathing a second chance or a third. May we give lavishly, live abundantly and squirrel away the extra for rainy day years like this one.