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In what do we trust

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Ever since the failure of the firms on Wall Street, the introduction of credit default swaps into the conversation, the circus in Congress, the "Alfred E. Newman"- we know as Dubya playing the idiot, the market falling 800 points and a 700 billion so-called bailout, we have all been asking, "what the hell happened?"- There are many explanations, most of which I do not understand. There are dire, to say the least, predictions from this is the next great depression, to it will take years for the economy to come back. There is a failing monetary system across the globe and no one knows where or when it will stop.


At my age, I have seen a number of economic crises but nothing quite like this. In '79 I saw my construction loan interest go to 22% and it broke me. In '87 I saw the market fall over 10% on that infamous day. I watched the dot coms tank and then the storm that followed 911 but nothing quite like this. Wall Street has caught the majority of the blame, followed closely by Congress, the FED, the SEC, the Bush Administration, McCain, Obama, Pelosi, and if you listen to Lou Dobbs, "broken boarders."-


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One thing we can all agree on, there is enough blame to go around the world twice. The victim in this mess seems to be the taxpayer, but you hear very little about any responsibility being borne by said taxpayer. There is no doubt, when it comes to the billions and perhaps the trillions the biggest perpetrators are the Wall Street firms and their obscenely paid CEO's. But we did not get in this quagmire solely due to the actions of greedy people on Wall Street; there are a lot of other players that look a lot like you and me. The important thing is how do we get out of the "pot of boiling oil?"


When I first got into business over 40 years ago; that was before computers and cell phones and electric typewriters were an office luxury, it was not unusual at all to do business with a handshake. I am not talking about rural life, where one farmer agrees with his neighbor about a fence line and they shake hands on it, but in a city and involving building lots and land. How did that work? One word---TRUST. As a child, when you got into trouble at school you probably got into more trouble at home because it never occurred to your parents not to trust the school. The same in the neighborhoods, in that if you got into trouble your parents trusted the neighbors. Every kid grew up in the 50's trusting the police and for that matter the FBI, the military, the newspaper, and for most of us our parents. I cannot in good faith say that I trust any of the above and expect I am much more the rule than the exception. I read a number of pieces on the "conspiracy" of the current political/economic situation we are now in. They are filled with mistrust, some I agree on and some I do not but the bottom line is, I know not who or what to trust in. If this is the case for me than it must be the same for many and how much of this is directly connected to the current situation. Many years ago I asked my bank for a raise in my construction line and when it was approved the old president asked me if I knew why. I stumbled to give him an answer and he said no, that the reason was that the bank "felt I would repay the loan." Trust. He was correct, because the thought of not living up to my word (trust) was just not acceptable.


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I trust the pilot that flies the plane that takes me across the Pacific. I trust the surgeon that operates on my loved one, and I trust my wife with my life. Planes do crash due to pilot error; doctors do make mistakes; I have been married four times and at times, my trust was broken. Certainly after a failed marriage, it is easy to lose trust but if we chose never to trust again, what sort of life have we condemned ourselves do?


One of the caveats I have heard in reference to Barack Obama, is the issue of trust. People doubt his integrity and feel he is, in some way, trying to cheat us. If you look at his story, it would seem he is the epitome of the American dream, in that a child of a mix marriage, no father, mother leaving him with his grandparents and yet, here he is perhaps the next President of the United States. A remarkable story yet why do some not trust him? Trust is a lot like a belief system, in that if you fail to trust in your beliefs they become wooden and not useful. How many people go to church on Sunday but really have little trust in the root of their religion? Belief is the cornerstone of all religions and trust is an absolute necessity to maintain that belief. As a traveler, I have been in many different countries but with lack of language, uncertain of cultural mores, no way to know the good guys from the bad guys but almost always figuring something out by simply trusting someone.


 What is the conclusion here? We can either live in a world where we do not trust in anything or we can make a leap of faith and decide that unless proven beyond a doubt, we will begin to trust one another again. I bet most of us trust that tomorrow we will be alive yet we know we may be wrong. One thing that we can trust in, is that one day that will not be true but until that day I will continue. I also refuse to pull all our money out of the market, will continue to believe Barack Obama will be a good President and should Sen. McCain win, I will believe he will try to perform his duties. I will not let George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest take away my ability to trust.



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Gin Arnold is a 70 year old liberal living in Cotacachi, Ecuador after living in S. Alabama. I have owned several businesses, lived aboard a 32 foot sailing yacht, been a bar tender, boat captain, short order cook, and imported furniture from (more...)

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