Friday, December 19, 2008

Hitting the Pause Button

My life has been improved dramatically by the AT&T U-VERSE television system my wife and I got earlier this year (not a paid ad for AT&T, but if the good folks in their marketing division are looking for a way to increase your internet ad exposure.........). My favorite part is the DVR function where I can pause live TV. The first few times I did it, it was mostly to show it off to friends or just savor the prospect of being in control of my television, completely, to the second. But now I use it all the time during diaper changes, binky failures (if you don't have kids, it's when the pacifier falls out of your kids mouth), cooking, beer runs, you name it.

That ability to say "hold it, stop for a second," has been an amazingly powerful positive force in my life. Way cheaper than therapy. In fact, when I don't understand things generally I want them to slow down. For example, when I think a salesperson is trying to con and confuse me I would really like a pause button. The same holds true for politicians when I sense they are trying to pull something over on me.

With this in mind, I'd like to broadly recommend that we hit the PAUSE, not STOP button on just about everything the folks at the Fed, Department of Treasury, Congress, and the White House, want to do to solve this financial crisis we are living through.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that I understand there's a serious problem here. We all are deeply worried about job loss, the recession, declines in housing values, and problems in credit markets. Those of us outside of the Beltway are the ones feeling this crunch, so it's not as if we don't appreciate the magnitude of the situation. Those of you in DC still have jobs after all (if you don't work in the White House that is).

But I think I can also safely say that I have never been more confused about what SHOULD be done and SHOULD DEFINITELY, POSITIVELY NOT be done before in my life. Let's suppose that we really do need to put ourselves into the scariest debt situation I could ever have imagined in my worse nightmares. If so, no one involved in government seems to be able to consistently and clearly explain to me how spending more government money is going to solve this, and that, to me, signals we need to pause.

More specifically if we are going to mortgage our prosperity, can we at least do it in a more systematic fashion? In the last couple of days alone we've seen the Fed cut rates to nearly zero, then act to unilaterally lower mortgage rates and back consumer credit. Bush just gave a bridge loan to the auto industry that doesn't involve any bridge construction, and hell the Fed even talked about printing it's own damn money!

Is it any wonder that consumers aren't spending and investors are scarred? No one has any notion of certainty.

So Senors Ben and Hank - TAKE THE WEEKEND OFF! Get a massage or something. No new plans for a week or so. We all could use a break.

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