Saturday, January 24, 2009

Trust Suffers with Financial Meltdown

(My Rose Parade 2009 post preparation is in progress in response to those of you who expressed interest in seeing a few pictures and videos despite the elapsed time since the event.)

I wrote the following two paragraphs about trust last year, I recalled after receiving a recent comment from Darlene Costner at Darlene's Hodgepodge. I had omitted them from my December 14th post "Changing Local Economic Picture"

Trust violated on any level causes future apprehension about the veracity and motivation of any individual's or group's action just as is occurring during this financial meltdown. In this instance the lack of trust I experience is and has been centered for too many recent years on our government's administration. I share the perception of many citizens that we have been lied to repeatedly, our personal rights diminished, and other actions taken that benefit only a select few.

Who's opinion on how to act do we trust to resolve the financial debacle our country is experiencing? Originally I thought Treasury Secretary Paulson was that person by default though I was quite repelled by the original bailout plan he proposed. What a power grab to rival that of what the Bush executive branch had been doing these past years. The constant admonitions by officials we needed to rush to action on this bailout raised a cautionary flag this might be a classic sales pressure tactic being used to close a sale. Fear tactics had been government's manipulative norm in preceding years. I was well aware the Treasury Secretary was from Wall St., but surely in this time of national crisis the overall good of the country would take precedence over catering to special groups.

We have a new administration, a legislative branch more capable of progressive change and a daily increasing number of new high level office appointees since I wrote the above thoughts. All these new government officials are expected to provide ideas and facilitate their implementation to bring about effective productive progress toward our nation's healthy recovery.

Day to day the local picture of business declines I reported continues. I expect others are experiencing similar scenarios I described if they look about their community. Perhaps we were able to temporarily overlook the situation ourselves with the brief distractions of Christmas and New Years. We could postpone confronting the business decline, unless we were one of those individuals already impacted with job loss, decreased income, and an uncertain future. Also, we had the prospect of welcoming a new governmental administration, a new direction for our country and a leader unafraid to offer some hard truth for a change while promising hope for our future. Well, the celebrations are over.

I offered my support last year to what has become known as Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP,) or as I tend to think of it 'the assistance recovery plan' (tarp) because I was convinced the state of our economy was critical -- requiring intensive care. My support of that 700 billion economic stimulus plan carried with it a proviso there would be ACCOUNTABILITY. How could there not be with all these financial geniuses in charge?

I was confident the Treasury lenders and those to whom they gave our taxpayer money, my money, should know how to set up accounting sheets with debit and credit columns. These forms have sections specifying where monies go and for what at every level for every lender and recipient. Had I realized the giver and takers either didn't have any of these forms, didn't know how to make any, or didn't know how to document on them, I would have offered my time and assistance. I'm no expert but I'm confident many other able common ordinary citizens along with professionals even more capable than all of us would have provided their expertise, also.

I'm angry and appalled the TARP money to banks was so freely given without accountability. Unequivocally, that is inexcusable. Didn't our legislators include that requirement? Why not? Why didn't our Treasury secretary make accountability a requirement? What have those banks done with the money? Let's start with having Citibank, Bank of America and all other fund recipients provide us their documentation.

Can we expect the new Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, to be more demanding for accountability from all recipients of any monies he disburses? My confidence in him waivers when I consider his tax paying accountability record. Conversely, maybe his experience will motivate him to press for an overhaul of the complex IRS forms we taxpayers have to complete since the rules are so difficult for even an expert like himself to understand. Will our new President come forth and demand accountability not only for funds already dispersed but any new monies loaned?

Meanwhile, local communities like mine are continuing to experience the adverse effects of financial hardships. Nationally, Circuit City is liquidating their products and closing all their stores over the next sixty days. IBM and other major tech companies are letting employees go. Baker's Square, a popular Southern California family restaurant chain abruptly closed their doors since the first of the year. A private restaurant, Green Garden, has taken over that location unlike another prime-located eatery whose doors have been closed for months. The new eating establishment opening is promising indicating that someone has hopes of new business success in the challenging world of restauranting during these difficult times. Otherwise, the list grows for all kinds of business with newly bankrupted and going-out-of-business companies being added. These are only a few troubled companies names I'm providing here.

Overhead costs increase as struggling small businesses in strip malls are seeing excessive rent increases. I was told one two-person beauty shop in business for five years incurred an unreasonable $300 per month rent increase. Owners, lessees, and simple renters, all are not immune to this financial climate's vagaries. I've not even mentioned the housing aspect that is tied in with the bank debacles, creating so much devastation to people of all ages.

What business and housing changes do you observe happening in your community as you go about your daily activities? Are you aware of any new business ventures, however small, such as the new restaurant I described above?

I continue to look forward to resolution of the issues facing our country. I anticipate positive changes in our local, state, national worlds – the world as a whole. I just keep wondering what is going to occur between now and then.


  1. One thing that we (USA/World) need to get over is thinking that expansion is good. Our aim should be for stability in world population (after we first reduce it to a sustainable level), and stability in the economy (ditto comment).
    Cop Car

  2. Great thought, Jo!

    I think accountibility is at or near the top of the list. Somewhere there should be some concern for our cities. We need help with new companies in the area because steel is dead. Our jobs either went South or to Japan with the death of the steel and the auto industries. Even the fast fod industry is laying off workers. Is it a wonder children are joining gangs? Survival is the name of the game these days.

    There are at least a dozen houses empty in my neighborhood that are foreclosures and God knows how many across the county. Are they better left to absentee landlords who won't take care of them and/or break them up into cheap apartments or a program that makes low-interest loans to families who need/want their own homes? I like the last because it creates stability and keeps the neighborhood nicer.

    I think some people need to re-evaluate what they really need. I've been through it and found that frugality is not only a virtue, it can also be fun!

  3. It's pretty bad at the micro level for a lot of people in Hawaii and in the Northwest, the two areas I know something about at first hand. The real estate market is dead and jobs are disappearing. Some things still look good on the surface, but everyone is worried.

  4. The list of layoffs by big industries increases daily. The economy is hemorrhaging and that idiot McConnell and Bonheur want more tax breaks for the wealthy. (How did that work for you, John, the last eight years?)

    It sickens me when they talk about the money going for condoms as if Family Planning were advocating sex and that's all they do.

    It is also disingenuous when they fudge the figures to make their point. Paul Krugman has debunked that ploy, but how many people read the editorials?