“If I have to hear the juxtaposition of “Main Street” and “Wall Street” one more time…”

October 3, 2008

Judith Warner, a writer and New York Times blogger, has an excellent post today putting the current financial crisis in the context of personal history and life choices.  Unlike her, I’ve never compared myself with the wealthy or wondered if I was a “loser” because of choosing a life focused on values other than making money.  But the key passage is here:

After 9/11, psychologists said that the tragedy and trauma would magnify whatever emotional state people were already experiencing. Depressed people would become much more depressed. Anxious people would become much more anxious.

The current financial crisis has, I think, proven to be a similar sort of emotional Rorschach test. People who felt impotent feel even more powerless. Those who felt lied to see new levels of conspiracy. Demagogues are engaging in even more demagoguery.

And those of us who felt, well, like losers, are feeling like even bigger losers, as we shove our unopened 401K or (if we’re double-loser freelancers) SEP-IRA statements into bottom desk drawers and wait for a cathartic burst of schadenfreude that simply refuses to come.

Schadenfreude is impossible because the fat cats — the ones who bent the rules, the ones who pushed the envelopes, the ones who paid lower taxes because capital gains were most of their income, the ones who opposed regulations on the banking and mortgage industries — are taking us down with them.

Well worth reading, the entire thing.


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