Tuesday, January 27, 2009

“Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

My boyfriend and I don’t go out much anymore. Sometimes I get the overwhelming urge to say “Yes! Sure!” when Dana invites me to see Uncle Lucius at the Saxon Pub, or the manager asks if I’ll commit to a ‘yes’ for the restaurant’s Mardi Gras party, but I bite my tongue and repeat the answer I’ve said so many times: “Sorry, I’m on lockdown. I can’t spend any money on going out. Have fun, though!” Raised eyebrows ensue. Meanwhile the voice in my head whispers “Sure! I make enough money to spend six dollars on a glass of moderately tasty wine and forced to go outside while it’s thirty two degrees to smoke a cigarette. What the hell! I’ll have fun!” Then the hostess yells, “Stef! You’ve been sat!” and I speed walk to section twelve, greet the grumpy old couple with a plucky “Howdy! What d’ya want to drink today?” and promptly forget about blowing my money on alcohol and karaoke.

I open the door to my house with a loud creak and my German shepherd Canela rushes to greet me, tail wagging.  I feel a rush of relief as I peel off my work shoes and I turn on my computer immediately to check the price of silver and gold and read the headlines about which bank just declared bankruptcy and how the dollar is losing its value faster than a BMW can go from zero to sixty.  This is becoming an obsession, I think to myself.

As I follow the economic mayhem from day to day, I think of my grandma Barbara and the stories she used to tell me about growing up in the Great Depression.  When I go to visit her she sometimes has CNN on the TV (really loud) and one time she stated, “I can’t believe the government didn’t learn a damn thing from going through the Depression! How could they be so idiotic? Didn’t they see this coming from a mile away? (Or twenty miles, I muse) She told me how the banks declared a “holiday” (sounds exciting, doesn’t it?) so no one could get their money or gold or anything out of their accounts or safety deposit boxes.  I asked, “What did you do then?” She replied, “We went home. We couldn’t do anything about it.” The next day the money was hyper-inflated and worth about as much as chicken scratch and everyone was screwed except a smart few who converted their money into gold and silver and took it out of the bank and buried it in their backyard. Those people had money to eat. Why? Because gold holds its value no matter what! Silver is slightly more unstable, but still, it’s made out of valuable material.  

                I thought Joey was crazy the first time he suggested buying silver bullion. I cried, “But we won’t have the cash in our savings to use in case of an emergency! We’ll just have this pile of shiny silver coins! What good’ll that do us?”  He looked at me like I was practically brain dead.  Then, he put his hand on mine and said, “Stef, this is savings. Savings is meant to be saved, not spent. Haven’t you been watching the news? The dollar is worth less and less every second. This investment will hold its value. We need to buy it now so we can buy more. If we wait, this Federal Reserve Note won’t purchase as much.”

                I think I saw the light at that moment. My dollar is a Federal Reserve Note. It’s basically a note of debt. I rejoiced that this piece of paper could still buy something of value – precious metals!  A few days later I got The Talk.  We couldn’t spend any more money on frivolous things like eating out, going to bars, gourmet foods. Saving was more important. Gold and silver was tantamount.  I saw the “pumpkin” as Rumi said.

                If anything happens to this economy I’m not repeating the mistakes many made in the past. We’re getting real wealth, keeping it out of the bank, and burying it in the backyard (well, maybe not - I guess we’ll put it in our safe.)

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