When I was walking Lucy this morning, I came across something I’m seeing more often these days. On a street just around the corner from me, a man from the city water utility was at a house to turn the water off. He shut off the meter and left a bright red disconnect tag fluttering on the front doorknob for all the world to see.
People have had money problems ever since there were people and money. Even in good economic times, some people struggle and have trouble paying their bills. With some, it’s a moral failing. With others, there are psychological issues at work. But I’m seeing more people today whose lives are being slammed by the economy who don’t fit the traditional categories. These are people who’ve worked hard and planned their lives, following the advice that responsible people gave about how to make it in the world.
It turns out that much of that advice means nothing today, because nothing seems to work today in the ways “the experts” had expected.
On the street where I live, I’ve never seen so many houses for sale. There are probably half a dozen “for sale” signs up — including the one above for a townhouse right across the street from me — and several more that are empty, but whose owners have given up on trying to sell for now. People are losing homes, cars, utilities and even families to the downturn.
In the news coverage and political discussion of the situation, we keep hearing people talk about what to do about the problem. It’s less often that we hear anyone have even a flicker of understanding of why the economic crash is happening. Because people don’t understand what happened and why, they’re foolishly counting on the same people and the same thinking that caused the problem to somehow fix the problem.
People are angry and hurting, whether they’ve lost a house or family or just the water until they can come up with $100. Some of them want to blame Barack Obama. Others want to blame various Republicans. Some want to blame Wall Street bankers or “the corporations” or gay marriage or the Illuminati or something. Many seem to want to do anything other than acknowledge that it’s the systematic manipulation of the economy for the last hundred years or so.
The truth is that our system is broken. It’s not just a matter of the current president or the previous president or which way the planets were lined up when you were born. Ideas have consequences. The ideas that have been at the heart of the economic manipulation of the last hundred years have been horrendously bad ideas that could only lead to where we are. Things can only get worse in the long run — until those ideas are stripped away like someone taking a boot off the neck of the free market.
People are hurting and need help. Even though they don’t understand it yet — and their masters at the machinery of the state don’t understand it yet — they need to be left alone to fix their own problems in peace and voluntary co-operation.
Until that happens, there’s much more pain where this came from. And that hurts me to watch.