wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

ComPost
About Petri |  Get Updates: On Twitter ComPost on Twitter |  On Facebook Petri on Facebook |  RSS RSS
Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 08/08/2011

DOW in the dumps? An optimist’s guide to the current economy


On the bright side, that looks sort of like the Matrix, an above-average movie! (BRENDAN MCDERMID - REUTERS)
When it's easy to look on the bright side, what's the point?

Admittedly, things do not look very cheerful. The markets are plummeting! The DOW Jones Industrial Average is down dozens of points! Standard & Poors rating agency decided that our credit rating was at best standard and at worst poor.

But that’s no cause for despair! Consider: for millennia, the US dollar was completely valueless! In fact, there were no US dollars at all, just large dinosaurs and other, more bird-like dinosaurs.

Today’s politicians are no doubt doing their darndest to restore America to what it used to be: a barren wasteland, covered in mammoths and shivering people huddled around campfires.

Many optimists do their best work in times of crisis. Who else do you think called it the “Great Depression”or came up with terms like “Double-dip,” which sounds like a delicious request with your ice cream, not a horrible economic event that threatens your life savings? We need optimism at times like this, if only to remind us that things could get worse, say, if there were a plague of some kind or Larry Summers were to call us up at home “just wanting to chat.”

Admittedly, I am not strong on the economy. I am one of those people who for years thought that the biggest difference between a bear market and a bull market was that a bear market was cuter and less startled by flag-waving.

But as a layman I have found that you can tell that the economy is bad if you see a graph and think, "Gee, it would be fun but dangerous to ski down that."

“My retirement savings!” everyone screams. “Retirement savings?” you respond, “I put my money in the banana stand.”

This is the sort of economy that justifies your decision to put all your money into 1/20th-scale Star Wars figurines instead of, say, US Treasuries. “This turned out to be a better investment decision than I thought, comparatively speaking!” you say.

But there are larger upsides. They say the best things in life are free. Soon, we will only be able to afford the best things!

Money is the root of all evil, in which case evil in America is decreasing quadratically!

They say money will come when you are doing the right thing. So this may be life’s way of tactfully suggesting that we need to be doing something else, like “being unemployed.”

Money doesn't grow on trees, which is good news for trees, because if it did I'd have to assume we were in some sort of horrible tree blight.

Fannie and Freddie have been downgraded too, which about serves them right. They are probably the least popular vaguely human-sounding money-devouring concepts right now, unless you count the E-Trade baby.

Don't throw good money after bad, they say. Who’s throwing money anywhere? Hold onto that money for dear life! Or give it to Glenn Beck, who seems to know what to do with it.

Money can't buy love, but it can buy those inexpensive-looking topheavy women. But those relationships are seldom lasting. We’re probably better off.

Obama said that he would bring change. This is certainly a change!

Sure, the economy seems to be shrinking, no new jobs are being created, and we’re all being replaced by robots. On the bright side, our robots are more efficient than they've ever been!

Everyone is hoarding gold now. This is fun because if you shut your eyes you can pretend to be a dwarf.

The economy is in the dumps, or headed there. And if Toy Story 3 or Wall-E taught us anything, it is that there are all kinds of cool things in dumps.

Besides, with less wealth, there will be less polo, and fewer yachts with more sensible names! Or perhaps not, since executive compensation is still at fairly unprecedented levels. But seeing where the rest of the economy is headed, no doubt they will soon erect a wall to keep us plebeians out, and then at least we won’t have to look at their Quantitative Easing theme parties.

Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, someone throws you a shovel. But hey, at the rate things are going, that shovel will soon be worth more than my house! Besides, when you’re flat on your back, the only way you can look is up, unless you’re flat on your back and have strabismus, in which case life has just dealt you a bad hand this go-round.

They say that too much prosperity was what killed the Ancient Romans. That or lead in the water supply. Regardless, that won't happen to us!

There’s good reason for optimism. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine, and in this economic climate, employer-based healthcare plans are usually the first thing to go.

But I wouldn’t make any investment plans.

By  |  12:53 PM ET, 08/08/2011

Tags:  stock market, economy, optimism

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company