But now, the world of Wall Street has become our world; there is no outside to it, there is no other option than to pay and play. Our fortunes rise and fall together to a degree like never before, and our values are enmeshed like never before. The language of Wall Street — of cost-cutting and efficiency, self-interest, using each situation to maximize profit, is the language of everyday life and social interaction.Seriously? Seriously? You know, the world is full of terrible, terrible things, and while the declining value of urban professionals' retirement portfolios, my own included, is all dommage and shit, it doesn't really amount to the misery of one single refugee. Economic declines are no fun, but they aren't the Russian advance of East Prussia, either. And, beg pardon, there is plenty outside "the world of Wall Street." Just the other weekend I was at Ohiopyle State Park, and the water was still flowing in the streams. You know what I'm saying?
We’re all losers now. There’s no pleasure to it.
Back in the quaint old 18th century, as mercantilism evolved toward a more modern capitalism, guys like Smith and Mill understood that trade is cyclical, and for a couple of hundred years, people understood that there would be good times and bad, ups and downs, booms and busts. Then along came the late twentieth century and we tethered ourselves to the innumeracy of optimism and presumed that industrial, technological, and financial progress guaranteed somehow the forever-expansion of good fortune. They do not. It is altogether regrettable that Judith Warner's middle-class comforts, luxuries, and privileges will contract somewhat, and it's lamentable that many very wealthy people will escape relatively unscathed, perhaps even further enriched, while the bulk of us endure certain relative hardships, but it's hardly the end of the world. The sheer volume of hysterical overreaction to a hyperinflated market at last shedding some of the most egregious excesses of the last decades is entirely disproportionate to the reality of the situation. One day, Peter, you must grow up.
Reality: the "bailout" isn't going to "save" anything, or put the market "back on track." If there is hope for a more rational, functional economy, it lies not in artificially maintaining the value of valueless investments, but in the cleansing of all the junk in the system and the establishment of a more coherent baseline where the valuation stocks is related to a company's actual performance, where debts are accounted as debts and obligations aren't treated as assets. Or we can all go apeshit about our IRAs, and consign ourselves to a much harder landing not very much later on.