“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. 

It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness. 

It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,

We had everything before us, we had nothing before us.

We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .” – Charles Dickens


“All going direct the other way.”  Somehow with the news of AIG’s latest and greatest claim to fame this morning of it’s plan to give out 165 Million dollars, the “other way” that Dickens speaks of seems to indicate the other way we are all going directly to is in fact, hell in a hand basket. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 (of course, unless you’re entitled to a bailout), do NOT go directly to jail, even if you are well deserving of doing so, it seems.

I don’ t know about you, but I’m one of the so called “little people” or middle class or what is quickly becoming the group falling through the cracks.  I’m not entitled enough to skate through on my “last” couple of million bucks or downtrodden enough to qualify for free handouts from the government (yet).  I’m simply a member of  the group who is trying to be responsible and pay our bills the best way we can amongst growing unemployment or shrinking salaries.  The ones making do with what we have, rather than trying to find ways to work the system or have someone swoop in and rescue us or pay our way. 

Granted, day to day living is not always a bunch of laughs.  I seem to have missed the memo where I was promised that life would always be fun or easy.  Silly me, I was raised to find ways to take care of things that were my responsibility.  While I’d love to live high on the hog all the time with penthouses, expensive vacations and lots of “toys”, I was taught that I was old enough for my wants not to hurt me.  I learned that if I can’t afford something, then I have to wait until I can and make do with dreams until I find a way to make it happen.  In doing so, I learned to appreciate the good things even more when they arrived or were earned.  I learned pride and perseverance.  Qualities all that need we are going to have to find again and learn to teach those survival skills to our children..many of whom have never heard the word no or had to do without.

So news this morning of yet more stupidity on MY hard earned dime is purely starting to piss me off.  It turns out the division that is receiving the “gift” of our tax payer money in the form of bonuses, is the division whose risky contracts caused massive losses to the insurer in the first place.  Has the world lost all sense of reason?  Am I the ONLY one that sees the irony and idiocy in all of this?  The taxpayer funded bailout (I refuse to call it the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, what a load of manure…playing with semantics won’t make it more palatable) is in effect being used to REWARD those that cause it to be needed in the first place.  The vivid image of a cat chasing it’s tail comes to mind.

I personally don’t give a flying flip that AIG is “contractually” obligated to pay these bonuses…the game and world has changed and along with it the rules.  The excuse that they would be sued if they didn’t fork over the money doesn’t hold water with me.  Let the people that helped cause this mess sue to get their blood money, I double dog dare them.  If they have the kahonas to file a public lawsuit and face the public outrage, I say, let them go for it…but do NOT just meekly hand them the money.  Make them actually do some work for it.  Lord knows, they didn’t do work or practice due diligence to earn it in the first place.  When are we going to start putting our collective feet down and say we’re mad as hell and NOT going to take it anymore??

The government and our illustrious administration is all over the place on every single issue put in front of it.  They manage to come down on both sides of every issue, sometimes within the confines of a single speech.  First we’re in a catastrophic crisis that is going to get hellaciously worse.  Then as of last week, all of the sudden, maybe it’s NOT as bad as we thought?  HUH?? Excuse me???  It just all leaves you scratching your head and saying what in heavens are they all thinking?  ARE they thinking at ALL or is everyone just throwing a dart at a big board of possible outcomes and using it as the message of the day?  No wonder the stock market and consumers are totally devoid of direction or confidence.  I have said many times in the past 4 to 5 months, that my head is going to literally explode one of these days as I listen to yet one more speech or lecture from our leaders.  Maybe that’s the grand master plan…To have as many of us stroke out from frustration over the mixed messages, ineptitude and confusion being spread by those we elected to higher power.

I’m here to say, just as many others more learned than I am are warning us..that life is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.  You can bet your bottom dollar on it or take it to the bank (just make sure it’s a solvent one).  We have all enjoyed the decades of excesses and must now fall back to earth and our roots.  Many of us in our 40’s or 50’s remember our parents teaching us right from wrong.  Somehow that message got lost or ignored along the way in the name of profit or greed or keeping up with the neighbor next door.  We allowed ourselves to make excuses or allowances for why we deserved to have more than we had actually earned.  It’s now costing us all.

It’s going to be painful, but not fatal.  We are capable of fixing this mess and finding a sensible middle ground on which to now live.  Will our world ever be the same again?  No, I personally don’t think so.  This is not just a localized problem in our nation, it’s a worldwide meltdown.  The world and all our ways of living are now changed.  Given the scope of the mess we’re fighting our way through, we never should have been living life the way we were in the first place.  Moderation and common sense are going to have to prevail. 

It’s not as bad as it sounds to find new ways of doing things.  There will be positives amongst the icky stuff to come.  We’ll find who we can depend on and rediscover or find in the first place ways to enjoy ourselves and families without the distraction of so much “stuff” getting in the way.  We will learn if we’re smart enough to pay attention, that there are more things important than getting a new car every year or going on several fancy vacations a year so we can compare pictures with our friends and have a contest to determine who had the best time or spent the most money.  Who knows?  Simple pleasures just may be rediscovered along with the joy they can bring.  To learn appreciation for living life without so much pressure to always have more and the finding that even the more is never enough. 

We have to stop the stupidity of letting the inmates rule the asylum.  To continue to let executives or those so used to “playing the game” keep sliding things past us on the rails of excuses or reasons why things CAN’T be changed, has to stop.  The government has to develop a backbone, stop trying to please everyone and start handing out consequences for bad behavior.  Let the big boys fail…nothing is TOO big or TOO important to fail.  Someone or a better organization will rise to take their place.

It’s the American way.  Now we all just need to remember what that way is and work to build a better more stable foundation that has some common sense…and learn to savor the good things before always needing more.

The lyrics of a Styx song, “The Best of Times” come to mind…


Tonight’s the night well make history honey, you and I..
And I’ll take any risk to tie back the hands of time
And stay with you here tonight.

I know you feel these are the worst of times..
I do believe its true
When people lock their doors and hide inside.

Rumor has it its the end of paradise
But I know, if the world just passed us by
Baby I know, you wouldn’t have to cry.

The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain, some shine, we’ll make this a world for two..
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime.

We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday well find these are the best of times
These are the best of times

The headlines read these are the worst of times,
I do believe its true.
I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide.

I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise
But I know, if the world turned upside down
Baby, I know you’d always be around.

The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain, some shine, we’ll make this a world for two..
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime.

We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday we’ll find these are the best of times..
These are the best of times.

So my friends we’ll say goodnight..for time has claimed its prize.
But tonight will always last
As long as we keep alive memories of paradise…