Peter Costa: Scariest Halloween since Great Depression
If you want to talk to your financial adviser, press 1; if you want to talk to your adviser’s supervisor, press 2; if you want to talk to a priest, press 3; if you want to enter a class-action suit against Alan Greenspan, press 4; for all other calls stay on the line and don’t jump off the ledge.
That’s how the voice mail of my financial counselor should work these days. There must be some way to vent our frustrations that does not involve risking a felony.
I read recently that we have also become impatient, not only with voice mail, but with the time it takes to boot up our personal computers. I usually do other things while the Microsoft hourglass pours sand on my screensaver. I venture outside and get the paper, feed the dog, press my shirt, or load a revolver with dum-dum bullets.
It’s hard to know who is at fault for the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” Can it become worse than the Great Depression? Surely there must be other nadirs. (Does nadir have a plural form? Was Ralph Nader kidded about his name when he was growing up?) How about this phrase to describe our economy’s meltdown: The worst crisis since Isis. (Isis was the Egyptian mother goddess.)
I think if President Bush is still addressing America from the Rose Garden, things must be really bad. Get out of the garden, Mr. President, and take a walk on the wild side. Visit Wall Street. How about ringing the opening bell and throwing out Stetson cowboy hats to the traders on the New York Stock Exchange floor? That would symbolize a rapprochement between Main Street and Wall Street. Or would that signify all hat, no cattle?
Actually, a lot of people from both sides of the political spectrum are to blame. I fault Mr. Rogers. For decades he kept saying it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood even while hedge funds were popping up like Starbucks coffee shops all over the urban landscape. And how about Mr. Rogers’ cardigan sweater and low-rider tennis shoes? Were they made in America or were they part of the Asian Contagion global economy?
Now listen, this is serious business. If the economy declines any more we will face severe unemployment, stagflation, low back pain, sore jaws from nocturnal teeth grinding, and a feeling of national malaise that would turn ex-President Jimmy Carter’s stomach.
But gasoline prices are plummeting and the dollar is rising. Those are good things. We all are also, rather paradoxically, walking more while staying at home more but spending more on the basics while earning less.
Without a doubt, this will be the scariest Halloween since the Great Depression.
Peter Costa is a senior editor for the Community Newspaper Company. His book, “CostaLiving: Laughing through Life,” a collection of his humor columns, is available at amazon.com and Barnes & Noble bookstores.