Not That Innocent

March 23, 2009

Britney Spears is my lens for viewing the financial crisis.

Bursting onto the scene in the 1990s through the Mickey Mouse Club and then “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” her train-wreck life of the last decade is a metaphor for What We Did to the economy. A promising young star turned tabloid fodder: Trashy. Vulgar. Ostentatious. And of course, her signature song in the middle of this, like a bad portfolio of mortgages and derivatives, was “Toxic”.

Oops, she did it again. How many Enron’s and WorldCom’s was it supposed to take before we learned that, just as Britney had no panties, our financial emperor also had no clothes? They’re not that innocent.

And we — awash in credit card debt and unneeded consumer goods masquerading as necessities — are also victims of our own and each other’s excess.

For Britney, recovery meant conservatorship.  It meant long multiple stints in rehab under close supervision before she could be allowed to make her own decisions again, and before she could start to heal.  The recovery, the rehab, and yes the supervision for Wall Street and the rest of us is just beginning.

If it’s a sign of hope, Britney now is on a sellout concert tour.  Her number 1 album “Circus” has had two number 1 singles, so far. If she can come back from the edge of the pit, we can too.

Carry on, Britney.  Grow up, live a better and more responsible life, and take care of your kids.  Isn’t that what we all have to do for those who’ll come after us?

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