Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are We Bankrupt Yet?

When a person's debts and payments on his debt overwhelm his ability to repay and to continue the expenditures of his current lifestyle, the curtain of material loss descends. Throughout the western countries in Europe and in the United States, the national governments are on or over the edge of bankruptcy. Add to this state and local governments, and we have a bit of a problem.

So, which is going to win: the Tea Party types, slashing expenditures and taxes, or those who want to keep government expenditures rolling so as to keep the house of cards from collapsing completely?

Seems to me that we are past opinions and that the reality of bankruptcy and insolvency is upon us. If we slash expenditures and keep tax rates equal or lower, we will unleash thousands of government workers and military into the tepid job pool only to drown. Social benefit recipients will find their support slashed or eliminated in the direction of homelessness and lack of food, heat, and medical care. We've seen civil disturbances erupt at what will, in the not too distant future, seem like minor inconveniences. Just wait when the cities are teeming with unemployment and homelessness, and the suburbs become ghost towns of idleness and despair.

The result is no different if we continue to spend. For then the currency will, and perhaps quite suddenly, simply implode with essentially the same exact results. You see, the die has been long cast.

It will be up to creative, energetic, and bold individuals and groups of individuals to act for survival and (hopefully) in cooperation with others of like mind. Homes, boats, ski doos, SUV's will be all but worthless. Gardens, rural land, running water and safe shelter will be in high demand, as will consummables that can be bartered.

The apocalypse that our culture has been visualizing through sterile and violent futuristic movies and video games, or through intense downbeat metal or rap music espousing all manner of violence and anger is, tragically, about to become a reality.

Naturally this sad picture is not the only picture, though I find it hard to imagine that it won't be realized in certain places and at specific times. As the sun rises and sets, warms and cools, so too even tragedy has comedy and comforts. Regions of our nation may be impacted very differently. Cities, too, may experience a wide range or degree of these scenarios. Families, businesses, and organizations, also, will experience the gamut of possibility. Even the Depression era of the 1930's saw many unscathed and oblivious to the suffering of millions. So, too, again, by the play of opposites, the sad scenario that I paint will not be absolute, or black and white, as the expression goes.

That doesn't make any less real, however, and certainly not for those who will feel the heavy heel of its foot.

So, am I such a pessimist? No, in fact. I believe much good can come from something that is simply overdue and the obvious consequence of overspending: not just money but natural resources. It's time to balance our budget of time, wealth, energy, health, education, trade, and care and concern for others. It's time we shrink the government in favor of personal initiative and responsibility. It's time to re-discover basic values of truth and consequences, hard work, saving, sharing, and love for our world and the Creator of our world. We need a new and sustainable lifestyle for the 21st century and we, in America, and in Europe, must take the lead (as we have sown the seeds of the weeds that are now choking the flowers of our lives).

If this were the Fifties and you thought the enemy were about to drop "the bomb," what would you do? Well, this time the bomb is one of our own making and it's about to drop. So, what do you do? Prepare! Cut your expenditures, stock up on provisions (food, water, medicines, camping supplies), things you can trade, move to the country if you can, join with others to gather more strength, get healthy and drop unnecessary luxuries and indulgences, learn to pray and meditate (especially with others), start a garden, store seeds, payoff debt where you can.....this is plenty for most people to do.

One ethical question I hear about is what to do with your "upside down" home? Is it ethical to simply walk away from it even if, for now, you still afford your mortgage payment? I wish I had a clear answer to this. But let me start by saying that the catastrophe of value-loss you are experiencing now, and the prospect of much more to come, goes far beyond anything you personally did.

This is BIG. I personally think it is better to make the kind of preparations described above even if it means abandoning your house. This is because I think you may end up having to do that anyway, and by that point, your ability to cope will have gone down the mortgage payment drain. Seems to me the banks are going down anyway. Sorry to say that but if a tsunami is coming at your town you could run around and try to alert people (even though the sirens are wailing and authorities are already doing that) or you could evacuate. Assuming you don't actually know of anyone too fearful to evacuate or unable to heed the warnings, you search may be in vain and at the expense of your own life. It's a personal decision, I grant you, but making your ideals practical and not being foolish has its place, too.

I think the sinkhole is draining our economy and resources faster than we can get out without serious losses at this point. While I don't espouse "every man for himself," but in fact espouse working with others and helping others, I don't see the ethical value in paying your mortgage for the benefit of a vague "greater good" that your payments cannot possibly or realistically impact.

It's a time for bold, yet thoughtful action. And action that includes good of others. Most of my readers already know that Paramhansa Yogananda made predictions of this decades ago and that Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda and direct disciple of Yogananda, has repeated warnings about this global economic tsunami for decades as well. I don't repeat those statements now because we no longer need seers to predict what is upon us already for those with "eyes to see."


Nayaswami Hriman