Funny You Should Say That! In Times Like These
By John Cadley
The next time I hear someone start a sentence with “In times like these,” I’m going to make a citizen’s arrest for creating a public nuisance.
“In times like these”! And exactly what kind of times would “times like these” be like? You mean times when the entire world economy – including my job, my house and my retirement – rests on what is essentially a global Ponzi scheme?
I’m trying to forget I live in “times like these,” thank you very much. When someone starts with those four cretinous words, I know I’m about to get heartburn, stomach upset and painful itching.
“In times like these…”
…you better have a credit rating like Warren Buffet;
… the experts who created this mess don’t even know how they got us into it, much less how to get us out
…your life savings look like tips from a paper route;
…it’s a great time to buy a house, purchase a car or take a vacation – but you can’t, because you don’t have any money
…your retirement plan is basically death.
Why would I want to be reminded about all that, not to mention a swine flu pandemic, melting polar ice caps, holes in the ozone layer, the world ending in 2012 (great – just when I finally pay my house off) and Britney Spears seeking inner peace through gardening? “In times like these” you get oxymorons like “toxic assets.” Toxic means bad and asset means good. Since when do they go together? Toxic assets are liabilities, OK? And a liability is a bad thing, OK? So please don’t give me a phrase that says, “You still have a good thing but it’s a bad thing.”
“In times like these” you hear the economy is in a “crisis,” a “free fall” and a “meltdown,” which scares you half to death, and that the reasons for it are “credit default swaps,” “collateralized debt obligations” and “derivatives,” which confuse you half to death. That’s one half death plus one half death. Do the math.
“In times like these” you are informed about countries being trillions of dollars in debt and that the solution is a “stimulus package” – sort of like a good, strong cup of coffee. Now mind you, this money is going to multi-billion-dollar corporations who have told the government in effect: “If we go down, the whole world economy is going with us.”
Stimulus package? How about “ransom money”?
“In times like these” we hear about CEOs of bankrupt companies getting “bonuses,” a word that comes from the Latin word meaning “good” and which reminds us of how good our ruined economy has been to the people who ruined it. The Latin opposite of bonus, by the way, is nocens, meaning bad/evil/ wicked/injurious, and that too is appropriate, since the idea of these boneheads getting bonuses makes nocens to the rest of us.
The biggest problem I have with “In times like these” is that the person saying it acts like he or she is about to impart some pearl of wisdom begotten of a sweeping historical perspective, like Charles Dickens opening A Tale of Two Cities with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” They’ll give me this sage, avuncular look and say, “You know, John, in times like these you should have a portion of your portfolio invested in gold.” I don’t tell them that a “portion” of my portfolio is all I have left. I just nod and say, “Good idea, I’ll look into that,” and we both go away happy.
However, if I were giving advice in times like these it would be this:
In times like these we should require that every professional economist go sit in a booth with a cape, a crystal ball and a sign that says, “Fortune Telling: 25 cents.”
In times like these the leaders of the G-8 Economic Conference should present their plans for global economic reform to a classroom of fourth graders, and when a student raises his or her hand and says, “My mom and dad say I should never borrow more than I can’t pay back and I should never spend money I don’t have” – they should listen.
Finally, in times like these do not open any investment statements or other financial reports regarding the status of your current net worth, as this could lead to spontaneous hair loss and uncontrollable weeping. Furthermore, if this occurs, do not seek medical attention, as your physician will probably preface his or her diagnosis with, “You know, in times like these…”
John Cadley is an advertising copywriter in Syracuse, New York. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.