Monday, November 17, 2008

Us and Them, or Are We Them?

Quick random thoughts as I sit and watch CNBC this morning. I'm only up because I haven't slept yet. That seems to be happening more and more these days. So I stayed up and did some mid-month sales reports, which only made me more depressed, and removed any trace of a chance that I would sleep.

Tough times were easier when I didn't have a family. I could eat Mac and Cheese, or cheap Taco Bell, live in a dive-apartment, and tough it out. That's not a life I care to share with these guys...

CNBC just reported that CitiGroup announced they will cut 50,000 of their 350,000 employees. That's 1 in 7 people who work for Citi, gone, no more job. The people at CNBC think this is a good thing, because the investors are looking for quick action to raise the stock price. So for the people who invest in Citi this is great, for 50,000 people with husbands, wives, and kids...not so much.

Just before that announcement the CNBC folks were talking about the "problem" with pharmaceutical stocks. You see, many medicines are coming off their protected patent, which will allow them to be made generically. So the fact that many people will be able to get their medication more cheaply, perhaps allowing them to afford medicine AND heat, is a disaster to investors. Hmm.

I'm not an anti-business guy. I have always believed in the "free market" and the fact that capitalism often is the motivation for great change. $3.00+ gasoline, was the motivation needed to drive people away from SUVs to fuel-efficient vehicles. It did, what no environmentalist could do. However, my belief in the system is shaken.

I am beginning to believe we all suffer from the "Wal-mart" effect. Every time Wal-mart is going to open a new store, the local community raises a stink. "Small businesses will be crushed! Wal-mart doesn't take care of its' employees! We don't want a Wal-mart here!" Then the store opens, and is packed. The "Mom & Pop" stores DO go out of business, because the same people who screamed and shouted like the cheaper prices at Wal-mart, and "forget" their protests. "Sure Wal-mart pays their people badly, and has lousy benefits, but WE save a ton of money."

Us and them, but which one are we? If you are a Wal-mart employee, you suffer from the success of the business-model. You don't make enough money, your benefits don't cover you or your prescriptions very well. If you live near a Wal-mart, the business-model is a blessing. Your dollar goes further there, with your insurance covering less and less, the $4.00 prescriptions there can save you tons. Us and Them.

I'm not sure we can save ourselves in this financial disaster with an "Us and Them" mentality. So a bunch of investors have some of their retirement savings back, but 50,000 people wonder how they will survive. A company and its' investors fear for their future, as thousands of others thank God that they can finally get their medications generically. Who is right? Is there a right or wrong? Everybody is worried, struggling to make it through.

I'm not sure that any of this means anything. I haven't slept, remember? I just know I am worried. I have two kids eating their cereal besides me on the couch right now. They don't know that their Daddy works for a company of over 300,000 employees too, or that his division sells to the Auto and Real Estate markets. They don't know that those aren't the markets you would want to be in these days. They don't know that he has been up all night, because when he tries to sleep he sees their faces when he closes his eyes. They don't know about Us and Them.


DCD said...

Yeah - it's scary. If I have to hear "Wall Street vs. Main Street" one more time I am going to scream! Because the people talking about "saving Main St." for the most part, aren't living on Main St.

Hope you get some sleep today.

-k said...

I actually DO work in the real estate field...and I can tell you first hand - it's bleeding. The sadness and depression that is seeping into our office is often unbearable. Matter of fact - I'm meeting with someone today to discuss where else my husband and I can cut the fat...The only thing we hope for is "this too shall pass..."

Carolyn...Online said...

I should give you Scott's email address so you two can wallow together. He feels the same way. Disaster is coming and we're all in the way of it. Sadly, there's just not that much that we have in our own control.

Now go take a nap.

Possibly Moving Mom said...

Miko -- I sure hope you could get some sleep today or can get some tonight. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure can fix some unhappiness. What makes our country's situation so scary is that, for those of us who work hard, pay our bills, and all the rest, we feel that we are holding up our end of the bargain. Suddenly, that's not enough. I hope tonight is better for you.

Laggin said...

Ugh. Just Ugh.

The whole thing depresses me enormously.

Today the Judges were making jokes from the bench about crooks on Wall Street. (The visiting Judge on the panel from NY didn't look too amused.) While they were made me uncomfortable. Too many suffering to laugh.

cIII said...

I'm laughing on the Outside.

Crying on the Inside.

The tears work either way.

Get some rest and call me when you get to the "L" not by the River.

AC said...

miko, no question the domestic economy is wicked stressful right now, but i am confident that you and the swede will provide everything the monkey and scratch need. you may have to downsize the moat for teenage monkey's convent however....

Jett said...

This is a gorgeous little piece of writing.

anymommy said...

I teared up at the end, so touching. And definitely, I identify with the fears. Even as we enjoy our little break in paradise, the back of our minds wonders about coming home, finding a job, insuring the kids. There's just no such thing as stress free once you agree to be someone's parent.

For Myself said...

I guess the impulse to "gather your team" when you feel like you're beginning to fail is what's causing the deadly Us vs. Them. Of course, you're exactly right though: this will end up contributing to the demise if we don't resist it.
On the other hand, look at your happy, carefree babies' eyes. And sleep soundly. It will be okay.

Vodka Mom said...

yeah, it's scary. My hubby has been laid off for three months now. it sucks.

oneheavenlyheart said...

CNN was saying that 1 in 10 jobs in the US is tied to the automotive industry.

I work in the RV industry. You can only imagine what $5 a gallon did to the motorhome world. Or the crumbling stocks to our demographics retirement funds and spendable cash. Or the housing and bank crisis to a $600,000 loan on a RECREATIONAL vehicle. Half our banks closed their RV loans departments :(

We're seeing dealers and manufacturers fold weekly. Makes me sick to think they would bail out "the big 3" and leave us to our own demise/devices.

BUT, we stay positive, we believe in our beautiful industry (even my parents RV'd when we were kids) and I do believe it will turn around.

Hang in there, you're not alone in that boat!

x said...

Well said. I always think the exact same thing about the Wal-Mart thing. If so many people are opposed to them, why is it impossible to find a parking spot there? Not that I know or anything ... I hope you're not reading this. I hope you're in a deep slumber right now.

Laggin said... ok?

For Myself said...

I try to remember to tell the funk to go funk itself.

Funking bastard should go find someone else to haunt.

Funk off, funking funk.

Now...come out and play, Miko!