The Common Good
January 2009

This Is Not About the Economy

by Ed Spivey Jr. | January 2009

Made you look. Anyway, the world economy continues to spin downward despite my previous column on the subject, which was intended to bring needed comic relief to struggling world markets.

Made you look. Anyway, the world economy continues to spin downward despite my previous column on the subject, which was intended to bring needed comic relief to struggling world markets. Unfortunately, their dour assessments of the future prevented them from just tossing back their heads and letting go with a hearty chuckle. So I say, “Why so glum, overly leveraged world markets?” or, alternately, “Laugh, economy clown, laugh.” There, that should do the trick.

In contrast, I’m sure Sojourners readers have been “keeping it in perspective” and finding humor in the common experiences of the new economic reality, such as watching sheriff’s deputies place their belongings on the sidewalk in front of their former homes. “Careful with that antique china cabinet. It was my grandmother’s. Ha ha!”

But as bad as it is here, we Americans know that things are much worse in China, a place where children go to bed every night without flat-screen televisions. (They’re on back order.)

Not to mention the other things we can be grateful for, such as our health, which at least we have, unless you’re sick. But even then there is a bright side: You may have lost your health care when you got laid off, but as temporary president George W. Bush confidently assured us, treatment is as close as the nearest emergency room. (Hint: Bring a book. Maybe two.) Like a philosopher once said, unless we stand together ...

(Editor’s note: STOP! This is not helping. There’s not enough left in my 401(k) to buy a Sarah Palin campaign mug! And I REALLY want one! So quit the false platitudes and get back to your usual drivel that, unexpectedly, we find ourselves missing right now.)

Fine.

It probably would be better to take our minds off the economic mess and focus on other themes, something universal like, say, the weather, which is really cold right now, brutally cold, not to mention gray, with a wind that strips hope from the soul and makes you want to read long Irish novels by authors who suffered from chronic alcoholism and died penniless, usually in that order. It’s the kind of wind that cuts through you like a scalpel or, if John McCain had won the election, both a scalpel and an axe.

(Editor’s note: So you got nothing, right?)

Okay, how about this: As winter continues and the pleasant auburn hues of fall become a distant memory, the good news is we will finally stop seeing seasonal pumpkin scones everywhere. And, for that matter, pumpkin-themed muffins, cookies, and cupcakes, all of which are incredibly fattening and should be outlawed by the new administration, just as soon as I eat these last three. (Editor’s note: Good topic. Take our minds off our 401(k)s with pumpkin scones. Sweet.)

And in the spring there is the hope of renewal, of flowers in April, of picnics in the park (nice touch), and family walks to the town square to shout vulgarities at, say, former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld who, given the slightest shred of street justice, would be standing in 16th-century-style wooden stocks in his boxer shorts. (What are you doing? We don’t need retribution fantasies right now! Okay. Maybe just the one.)

And an oxcart could be rolling by, pulled by real oxen, with disgraced former AIG executive Joe Cassano sitting on top of oxen droppings on the way to the manure factory. He’d also be in his boxer shorts, since, in a hasty effort to shelter his ill-gotten gains, he moved the rest of his clothing to off-shore closets. (I could add the former Fed chair to this reverie, but who wants to imagine an exuberant and irrational Alan Greenspan in boxer shorts?)

And if I know my fantasies, a bucket of stale pumpkin muffins would be nearby for those who wish to take out their fiscal frustrations via pelting. Because nothing brings a community together like a good pelting. (Note to Jesus: On the face of it, sir, pelting may not exactly fall into your category of turning the other cheek. But just this once, if you wouldn’t mind turning your own cheek—actually, your entire head—and closing your ears for a few seconds, we would really appreciate it. And don’t be distracted by what sounds like stale muffins striking bare skin. It’s just, uhm, pumpkin rain, which falls on the rich and poor alike, but mainly the rich right now, if I can get the distance right.)

Jesus: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first scone.”

Actually, they’re muffins, sir.

AND FINALLY, NOW that there is no danger of violating our tax-exempt status and this cannot, in any way, influence the results of the presidential election: I’m leaning toward Obama.

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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