Junk Bonds: The Culture of Economic Trash

In this time of manic-depressive 401(k)s and topsy-turvy markets, it seems best to squirrel away your money under the mattress and to file away your foreclosure notices and unpaid bills at the dump with the junk mail for credit cards and insurance plans.  One could argue that the current financial instability stems from a shift in reading material from The Female Eunuch to The Wall Street Money Machine, from a pursuit of utopian dreams to cold, hard dollars.  That would be easy and, like all easy answers, is probably wrong.  I have a friend, with a sophisticated knowledge of economics, who sees Reagan as a symbol of all that is Right in the world.  He has the supply and demand curve tattooed on his bicep.  No peace and love symbols for him.  So maybe it is true that we are currently suffering from a long, painful hangover caused by the 60s. 

All I know is that, like the copies of A Female Eunuch and Steal This Book, the Horatio Alger stories and Get-Rich-Quick Manuals of the 80s are now bankrupt and residing at the dump.  I see this as an indictment of the economic culture of the MTV decade.  The decade of DeLoreans, Milken, Boesky, Gordon Gecko, and junk bonds.  Greed, like Lust and Gluttony (the sins of the 60s as well as the 80s), ends up at the dump.  (Miami) Vice is trash.

Like many of those who grew up in the 80s, I have Grassian skeletons in my closet associated with political rallies chanting, "Bush and Quayle are going to carry the Keystone State/That's the big story of 1988!!"  A high school friend of mine, whose grandfather was a Socialist candidate for President in the McCarthy 50s, bought me a T-shirt that said, "Tan, Rested and Ready:  Nixon in '88."  I wore the T-shirt not fully knowing the relationship between Nixon and McCarthy.  My friend, undoubtedly, did.  The joke was on me.  It was a sick joke to be sure, one that Lenny Bruce would have told to an audience of undercover police in a smoke-filled nightclub.

Over the years I have grown not to dislike Reagan, but to distrust him, along with my apprehension of Marx, Mondale, and Mussolini.  All across the spectrum, I cannot view politics with rose-colored glasses.  I see nothing but management, manipulation, and money (What else is there to see, unicorns and rainbows?).  Maybe it is not the ideologies of the 60s or 80s or those of any decade, but this general mistrust, that is the cause of the current instabilities.  Pulling the covers over your head, with your mattress crammed full (or if you are lucky, half full) of life savings, and sleeping a troubled sleep is probably not the answer.  Neither is throwing up your hands in surrender and throwing away the past in the dump.  Surely, there has to be something of intellectual and spiritual worth there to recycle.  Or maybe not.  Quite possibly there are still half-remembered dreams to believe in, but then again, maybe it is time to wake up, get out of bed, walk away from the dump, and truly and completely start over.



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