Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...

One of the hardest things to accept, and perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this crisis, is that what so many of us worked so hard to obtain, over years, decades and in some cases, a half-century, disappeared in a mater of days.

What's the point? Why did I "waste" my time? Why should I continue, "wasting" my time, if what I worked so hard for can evaporate before my very eyes?

And to make things worse, it's all due to the greedy decisions of a few "tax-payer-blood drenched" psychopaths seated on their waste-collecting, solid-gold thrones, embedded in their castles sculpted from the bones of hard-working, tax-paying, red-blooded (is there any other kind?) Americans.

John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, and inventor of the first mutual index fund in 1975, which introduced investing to the middle class is one of the good guys. He has predicted this all along. He refers to the daily moves of the stock market as "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The basic lesson in all of this is that our financial system is based on nothing more than an illusion. However, the key line in the MacBeth's passage that John Bogle took that quote is "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow". Increasingly we have come to expect more and more and to pay for it later and later. This way of thinking has grown to epidemic proportions and unfortunately, the time has come to pay Peter Piper. Unfortunately, this crisis does not discriminate between the so-called "guilty" and "innocent" nor does it discriminate between those who have time to build up their retirement and those who are set to retire now.

MacBeth to messenger:
She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
In the long run, this financial "crisis" may be a gift to American culture as it might provide those of us, or most of us - who bought into and consequently became addicted to consumerism - a way out, where they will not be alone. They will have the company of millions of other Americans breaking free of a culture saturated with consumer goods.

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