Amid money madness, a golden opportunity
If Im reading this latest economic meltdown correctly, the United States is officially a capitalist nation when it comes to profit and socialist when it comes to loss?I get it … kind of … sort of … not.Its all beginning to look like Monopoly money to me and to most normal people just trying to get by in these very strange times. No doubt lots of people are making lots of money from these billion-dollar bailouts. Unfortunately none of them are my friends, who are too busy wondering what it will be like to work at McDonalds when they are 90 because their 401(k) funds are gone. It will completely change the dynamics of fast-food.ME AT AGE 90: Can I have your order please?CUSTOMER: Yes. Id like a hamburger and fries.ME AT 90: Did you say a milkshake and water?CUSTOMER: No. I said hamburger and fries!ME AT 90: Okay. One fish burger and one Pepsi coming up. Move up to the window and honk. Ill meet you there in a half hour.You think Im kidding? Last week we would have seen hundreds of local retirees leap from tall buildings if we had any to leap from. Instead all they could do is stand in the yard and hope for a deer to gore them through the empty portfolio. Such is the downside to country living. No skyscrapers.I havent looked at my own 401(k) plan for several days. Im waiting for my pain medication to arrive, then Ill down the entire bottle, pour a large gin and tonic and open up my account online, from the privacy of my home, where I can scream and shout and fill out applications for night work at KFC.Maybe Im just not as smart as the bankers and Wall Street wonders, but I cant help but wonder why banks didnt just freeze home loan interest rates at around 6 percent for all those adjustable rates that were driving people from their homes earlier this year. From what I understand, thats what started this mess in the first place. That and banks handing out loans to people who couldnt afford a tank of gas.Yes. Id like to buy a $300,000 home, please.Do you have any collateral?Yes. I have four chickens, two ducks and a collection of quarters from every state in the nation.Okay. Heres $300,000. Let us know if you need more for a swimming pool or flat-screen television.Where were the bank regulators when that was happening? Dont tell me … making money.Anyone who was around in 1929 would have told us we were going to be in big trouble when this house of cards got too tall for its breeches. They remembered what it was like to stand on street corners selling apples and promised to never allow themselves to be put in that position again. They feared debt with passion and if they didnt have the money to buy what they needed, they did without or waited. When many of them died, their children took their homes and sold them for huge profits, which they used for fancy cars and bigger houses of their own.If there is an upside to an upside-down economy, its coziness. When things get really, really bad, we tend to develop what they call a village mentality. We retreat to our village and circle the wagons, hoping to ride out the storm. We saw a glimpse of that after 9-11, when most of us felt really, really vulnerable. Churches were filled as we held hands across the aisles. Then we sent our children to kill the alleged perpetrators and we all went out to dinner, eventually leaving our villages to buy big houses and SUVs with personalized plates decorated with clever little combinations such as I OWN U.Now it seems we are all owned by the government and soon they will be issuing those dandy little Chinese uniforms that look like pajamas so well be comfortable in the rice fields.And while we ponder our economic fate here in the Gold Country, waiting for the government to tell us what to do next, we are reminded that … wait a minute … theres still millions of ounces of gold right beneath our feet! Anybody got a drill? They say Grass Valley did pretty well during the last Depression, thanks to gold. The folks who want to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine say theres somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million ounces of gold they could get at pretty easily, once the regulators, protesters and endangered lizards allow them to. The price of gold soared to around $850 per ounce as investors scrambled for some security last week. That means were sitting on … lets see … 2 million ounces times $850 per ounce … thats … holy cow … more money than Oprah has! Almost.This village of ours was built on gold. That includes most everything you see, from the charming little downtowns, to the great Victorian homes that have been transformed into Bandamp;Bs to host tourists anxious to share our Gold Country charm and history.So as we ponder our economic fate, watching helplessly as businesses close and the numbers of unemployed rise, how about we take stock in the plentiful assets sitting right beneath our feet, in tunnels already drilled by men who built this village we call home. Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of the Sierra Suns sister newspaper The Union in Grass Valley. Contact him at email@example.com.
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