Is it just a gut feeling, or a gut feeling that comes after your brain collects disparate facts and puts them together?
In the last week, three friends called me to talk. Here is what they have in common:
1. All are women.
2. All are between the ages of 50-60.
3. All support children or young adults.
4. Two have no husband; one gets limited help from her husband.
5. All own their own homes.
6. All are highly educated and consider themselves upper middle class.
7. All work full-time, with no job security, in the fields of finance, real estate and health care.
8. All are up late at night sweating about paying bills.
9. All are close to losing their homes because of dwindling finances.
10. All are considering bankruptcy or seriously worried about foreclosure.
I have been practicing law since 1984. I’m old enough to have been through at least one miserable real estate cycle and recession. Was it because I was younger, and therefore my friends were younger, that I didn’t know of this kind of suffering, or was it because this kind of suffering did not then disproportionately hit middle- aged, single-woman households who still have children depending on them?
Newspaper headlines notwithstanding, there are lots of reasons for an economic downturn, and subprime lending is just one of them. Personal greed, overbuilding, the weak dollar, outsourcing, poor political and corporate leadership, disproportionate executive pay, the US energy policy and the Iraq war are on that list as well.
In a capitalist society, booms and busts are part of life. We cannot and should not expect our government to bail us out of every economic problem; last time I checked, a system that does that is not called capitalist anymore.
Nevertheless, I feel an ill wind coming. I feel for my close friends. I worry for my own family. I need to break my own spending habits, and disregard the reigning economic mantra of our president to keep spending, spending. spending, in a drunken orgy of credit cards.
OR, I need to live for today, because you never know what will happen tomorrow,and what the hell, life is short, so I’ll die tomorrow with a little less…