Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Enough Is Better

This just in ...

Apparently, the major news networks have picked up on the fact that we are, in fact, in a Depression. It must be so, if they say it is so.

Personally, I wouldn't know what the national networks say. I don't watch television, and my news exposure is pretty limited to reading headlines from the various newspapers who have a feed through Yahoo, and any national stories distributed to the Portland Press Herald through the Associated Press and published online. I used to be quite the news junky, but over the past few years, with the knowledge that most of what *we* read (or watch, if we have television) is filtered, I don't bother. None of the news is good, but none of it is the whole story, either.

In fact, I get most of my news from other blogs, and if I really want to know what's going on, I read Kunstler, or Greer, or (especially) The Automatic Earth. What's great about getting my news from these places is that they draw their information from a lot of different sources so that it's not (entirely) biased, but also that (I assume) they are not being backed by some corporate sponsor (like our own government) to say what *they* think we should hear.

So, "they" say we're in a Depression *now*, and I say the catalysts that have resulted in what we're facing today were put into place more than a decade before we started feeling the pinch.

People are so short-sighted.

If we follow history, at all, even a little, we would be noticing. The 1970s were bad, but we learned nothing. We started to learn, and then, the 80s happened , and a whole new set of people were in charge of what we were being told, and the story was different, even if life wasn't so very different for most people. The similarities between what is happening now, and the events that resulted in the 1930's Depression are striking.

The 1990s were the *Gay '20's" revisited with easy credit and a spending spree. From the Dick Tracy Soundtrack, I'm Breathless Madonna had a great song that pretty much exemplifies the attitudes of Americans during the 1990s.

The song, itself, is just a lot of fun, because it's a bouncy little ditty, but the message is pretty sobering. Nothing's better than more, it says, and goes on to tell us that:

Each possession you possess
Helps your spirits to soar.
That's what's soothing about excess
Never settle for something less.
Something's better than nothing, yes!
But nothing's better than more, more more

... Except once you have it all
You may find all else above
That though things are bliss,
There's one thing you miss, and that's
More! More!

In short, it's never enough, because nothing's better than more ... except ... MORE!

And it's true. With my children, we fell into the trap of buying them little trinkets, like Polly Pockets and Build-A-Bear animals and Webkinz animals, to the point that Precious had "too many" Webkinz on her online account to even properly care for them. She wanted to abandon her account, get a new animal, and start a new account with just the one animal, because she was spending so much time just feeding the ones she had that she didn't have time to play the games. She got in over her head, and we allowed it ... nay, encouraged it!

What's better than more? Enough, and enough is far less than most of us have.

The hard part, for my family, especially for my children, and for most of us, in general, is to find that balance between satisfying our needs and falling into excess, to answer the question how many (silly bands, Polly Pockets, Webkinz, pieces of jewelry, articles of clothing, pairs of shoes, cars, houses) is enough?

In the 1920s, people began migrating west with the promise of a new life with an abundance of land for everyone. They migrated, they found a piece of land, they settled, and they started farming. They made money, and they started buying things, and then, they started buying things on the promise that next years' crop would be better than last years ...

... but it wasn't.

The reason many of the "dust bowl" farmers lost everything was because, initially, their farms were so profitable that they felt comfortable going into debt to pay for the stuff they wanted (and sometimes needed) like tractors, or wood for a better house with real windows with pretty cloth curtains and doors with latches, or pianos and other household goods, but then, there was an economic downturn, and while people were starving all along the East Coast, grain was rotting in silos because there were no buyers, and livestock was (quite literally) being shot and left to rot. In fact, the government *PAID* farmers for shooting their cows.

Timothy Egan's book The Worst Hard Time was a really good look at what life was like in the dust bowl during the 1930s.

For a couple of years, I've been reading stories about the struggling dairy farmers selling off their herds, or worse, pouring out their milk, because the cost for them to get the milk to market was higher than the cost of dumping the product. That is, it would cost them MORE to sell me a gallon than it would for them to pour that gallon down the drain.

But that wasn't the only one. Earlier this year, in Florida, strawberry farmers were doing the same thing. The price for strawberries on the market was rock-bottom, and some producers couldn't afford to hire the help they needed to get the crop to market and still make enough of a profit to make it worthwhile, and so they were just going to let the strawberries rot in the fields. For liability reasons, they couldn't open their fields to the general public and offer a PYO option, but under pressure, several of them, eventually, allowed food pantries to pick.

It's very sad to see food wasted.

It's worse to know that all we need is provided for us, if we're willing to accept *enough*, instead of more, and that as long as we insist on *more*, we will never have enough - even when this too much is killing us.


  1. Just one word on this post-bravo! I completely agree.

  2. How I wish everyone could understand this simple concept.

  3. Very thought provoking.... and true. Too bad so many of us don't recognize it.