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Recession vastly different from Great Depression

Monday, November 17, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST

With the end of daylight saving time, I decided to avoid spending the first few months of winter in total misery by just giving up and going to bed as soon as it gets dark. I fight this battle every year when the time changes. I go to bed early, I go to sleep and wake up in the middle of the night and stay awake for hours.

So this year, I've decided to turn my life upside down and go with the flow. That's one of the great things about living with a cat. You get to do this kind of stuff without having to explain yourself. As long as you are available day and night to take care of his needs immediately, the cat has no interest in what else you do. And I can work just as easily in the middle of the night as I can during the day, so it's no big deal.

Most people don't understand how cats operate. They think cats behave the same as dogs. They are wrong. Cats seem to believe that when you welcome them into your home, you do so for the sole purpose of wanting to serve their interests. As far as they are concerned, you have no other reason to exist.

When I had a dog, he considered himself a part of the family. He was a loving companion. He loved to play games with my son, and he was very protective of us. He was loyal and devoted. On the other hand, from Day One, the cat lets you know who is in charge. It's no wonder some people leave fortunes to their cat. It doesn't take them long to get you trained to believe their desires are the only thing that matters.

As it is, with winter progressing and the country sinking deeper into recession, I'm glad I have Geronimo, the cat, around to keep me focused. It's so easy to get depressed when you hear that thousands are losing their jobs and their homes, every day. And you could drive yourself crazy realizing there is nothing you can do to stop it.

I had thought, as others had, that when the government used our money to bail the banks out, this would enable them, in turn, to give credit to businesses so they would not have to lay off employees. Instead, the banks used the money to feather their own nests and buy other banks, so it was all for nothing. I hope that finally, all those people who are so gung-ho with the belief that these free market maniacs would regulate themselves have learned a lesson. It is truly unfortunate that all of us who believe in regulate, regulate, regulate have to suffer with them.

There is a big difference between this situation and the Great Depression. In the 1930s, most people functioned with the same values they brought with them out of the agricultural society. They saw themselves not just as individuals but as communities and citizens of one country. They felt a responsibility to one another and to the nation. These free market people are only interested in getting as much money for themselves as they can. The government has allowed these individuals to become capitalists gone wild. We can find that the same attitude exists in every aspect of our daily lives. Freedom, in contemporary society, has become equated with the right to behave irresponsibly.

The problem is that everybody, from parents to presidents, has said that's OK. Really, I don't think the country's founders had this in mind when they penned the Constitution. Can intellectually mature people really believe teaching 8-year-olds how to shoot guns and giving them access to weapons has something to do with the Second Amendment?

Don't worry. Somebody can make a case for it, and enough idiots will accept it to justify buying and selling more guns to people who use them to kill other people. After it happens, we can all sit around and cry together and provide jobs for grief therapists. Gosh, countries that are not democracies have no idea what they are missing!

Undoubtedly, the government will probably have to bail out the automakers, too. Their industry supports so many other industries. If they go down, they will take millions with them. I wish these greedy, incompetent business tycoons who are experiencing hard times because no one can afford to buy their products would have thought about that when they sent all those jobs overseas. I think they describe this situation as the chickens coming home to roost.

So, in many ways, I can understand cats' attitudes toward human beings. They probably believe their survival depends on their being in charge. Maybe they feel they can't trust people to act wisely. Well, there is certainly enough evidence to support that position. For 16 years, Geronimo has insisted I keep him fed and watered regularly. In other words, he demanded I behave responsibly. Wow, what a concept!

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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