Ah, the sights and sounds of nature! We got to experience it all last week during a family vacation to Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, as I got a break from my mortgage buyer job. Many years ago, pre-kids and pre-wife, some friends and I did an 8-day backpacking trip through Kings Canyon, of which I still have fond memories. This time, there were no backpacks or worries about bears and local wildlife, as we were often safely ensconced in the friendly confines of our car or a motel room. We spent a portion of every day on the road and stayed at a different motel each night.
When doing that much travelling, I observed the best and worst of human nature. On the positive side, we met other tourists who were warm and fun, as well as park rangers, waiters, and even motel clerks who went out of their way to be helpful. Toward the nasty end of the scale, we had to experience certain employees who felt that being mean and surly helped offset their low wage, as well as drivers who felt that the roads were strictly for them and common courtesy need not apply.
One driver on the freeway cut me off when I was going 65 m.p.h. (okay, maybe a little more, but must have been below the legal limit 🙂 ). His car passed just a few feet in front of mine, forcing me to slam on the brakes and lean on my horn. When I passed him in another lane a minute later, he gave me a nasty look and mouthed an obscenity. Really, how could he possibly have perceived what he did as anything other than moronic and dangerous! Of course, this driver’s action mainly affected him and me, and it was over and forgotten (well, mostly) within a couple of minutes. He was just one idiot among millions.
On a much broader scale, the politicians and their debt ceiling discussion have gone beyond rational comprehension and into the absurd. As of this writing, the House and Senate have both passed the debt ceiling bill, and I presume that Obama will sign it by tonight. Of course, the bill does very little to actually pay down the nation’s debts. Most of the spending cuts occur well into the future, and entitlement programs were virtually untouched. Even if all of the cuts were hitting tomorrow, the current debt would be hardly affected. In very real terms, my children will someday be paying higher taxes to address the deficit of today – assuming, of course, that they can get decent jobs at those times.
Both from the perspective of being a caring citizen and being a mortgage buyer, I am deeply concerned about how much more our country’s economy will get messed up. Do I want to own a risky mortgage noteif the housing market continues to decline, as I think it will? For that matter, should I hold dollars instead of another currency when I know that the Feds are going to inflate away much of the dollar’s purchasing power? The future of our economy looks bleak. I may need another vacation soon!