Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recession Rant

I recently read an article on talking about a new strategy to fight homelessness: helping families find foreclosed homes to squat in.

It's a great article. I highly recommend you read it. I never thought there could be a moral dilemma with helping the homeless.

The thing that struck me the most, however, was a part near the end. The Miami activist helping to place families in the vacant homes had previously reached out to banks, trying to legally acquire the houses. His original plan was to rent the homes to the displaced families. At first, there was interest. However, once the banks learned about the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Fund, also known as the "bailout"), they stopped taking his calls.

These banks didn't care about the people. They cared about the bottom line. Here stood a man trying to help. Here stood an opportunity for people to come together, work together, find a way for all parties involved to help each other. Instead of rising to the occasion, being truly magnanimous, the banks chose to wait it out. They wanted their money, no matter what the cost to the families forced out onto the streets.

This article highlights another reason why our country is in such financial peril. When creating mortgages they knew the perspective home owners could not afford, the bankers didn't think about the welfare of their customers. Instead, they went for the quick profit, the easy money maker, brushing their hands of the situation. When given a chance to help their customers, they chose to help themselves.

And what consequences did they have? Only $350 billion dollars to keep their doors open. I understand that everyone needs the bank to stay afloat. But why didn't the government act more forcefully, asking more questions, finding out the root problem, and require the banks to give a report on how they would become profitable again? Why didn't the government appoint a bank czar, who could force the institutions to work with each other, lend to each other, strengthening the financial market? Why were they given basically a blank check, while the auto industry has been grilled before our eyes recently?

I am sickened by the banks' greed, but I am made nauseous by the government's obvious classicism. White collar gets a check. Blue collar gets cheated. Paulson takes care of his buddies. Detroit is kicked while it's down.

My feelings, by no means, excuse what auto companies have done. Save Ford, who at least thought ahead, planned for the worse, and, it is not said enough, HAS NOT ASKED for money, America's auto companies are in trouble because of their own failings. Having said that, why wasn't the same treatment given to the CEO's of AIG, Merrill Lynch, Countrywide, CitiGroup, and the many others who have received piles of money these last few months?

I encourage questioning. I encourage grilling. If you've fucked up, you have to come clean. But punching Peter while you hug Paul doesn't work for me. Our country is in trouble. Our government must do better to make our lives better, lest we all loose what little "wealth" we still have.

If you punish a child for an act, they are less likely to repeat it. By giving the banks a pass, the government has doomed them to make the same mistakes again. Require just as stringent guidelines and reform for the banking sector as you have for the auto sector. That's where the trouble started. It must be where it is treated, vigorously. Maybe then we have a chance of this recession not repeating itself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I've decided to go ahead and write about something that has been on my mind, and stressing my life, for the past few months.

I have HPV. I don't know who gave it to me. I just know I have it.

It was found after a series of pap smears, having come up abnormal, forced me into the uncomfortable situation of a colposcopy, which ultimately confirmed the diagnosis.

Needless to say, for a while, I was scared and angry and sad. When I got the phone call from my NP, telling me I needed to come in for the procedure, I was not expecting it. I thought I was fine: no symptoms, no problems, in a loving managomous relationship. But HPV creeped up on me.

I remember crying in my car, on the phone with my best friend, my SO beside me. The colposcopy came back. The cells are too abnormal. They needed to be removed. I remember thinking, "Why is this happening?"

I felt powerless. I felt like I had done something wrong. I wanted to blame someone. I wanted to break something. It didn't seem fair. I'd received the vaccine. But, I was probably infected already.

I just recently finished recovering from my surgery. My abnormal cells were removed from my cervix in a painless procedure. My cervix is healed. Now I have to receive a pap smear every six months for three years. If all goes well, that will be it.

I may lead a perfectly normal life, not having to worry much about HPV. With yearly checkups, it is safe to say any abnormal cells, should they arise again, will be detected, removed, and I will be fine. And since I received the vaccine, I am still guarded from other strains of the virus.

Going through this, and now trying to not think about it, is just another situation I never expected to face. My cousin died of cancer. My aunt (and substitute grandmother) died of cancer. That scares me.

But I don't have cancer. And I have to keep reminding myself of that. I have to keep positive. I can't let myself fret over something that hasn't happened yet, or may never happen. I have to be happy with my today, and let the rest sort itself out tomorrow.

"After all, tomorrow is another day." - Scarlet O'Hara (Gone With The Wind, one of the best movies EVER!)
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