But what about us -- yes you reading this newspaper? Snake oil requires a buyer. We wanted to believe the sky was the limit when it came to prosperity; indeed, we came to believe there were no limits. Home values were supposed to go up every year, along with a booming stock market. And with our increased profits we bought more stuff, renting public storage units for the overflow, because marketers told us stuff would make us happy. When we didn't achieve happiness through material gain, we bought more stuff, believing the pot of gold was just at the end of the rainbow and surely our new and expensive (naturally) GPS system could find it.
The prevailing view on Capitol Hill, in the media and with much of the public seemed to be that if one couldn't trust Alan Greenspan, whom could one trust? The answer to that question is the ancient wisdom practiced by those of long forgotten generations. You know them as "old sayings," like, "always live within your means" and "haste makes waste" and this one from the early 17th-century poet, George Herbert: "By no means run in debt; take thine own measure. Who cannot live on 20 pounds a year cannot on 40." For truly ancient wisdom, try this from The Teaching of Merikare (c.2135-2040 B.C.): "a fool is he who is greedy when others possess. Life on earth passes away, it is not long..."
One of the nice things about ancient wisdom is that it doesn't expire, like milk left too long in the refrigerator. Those who believed and practiced ancient instructions and virtues aren't sweating the economic downturn. Those who didn't and believed in the "oracle" and "infallible architect" Alan Greenspan, may wish to consider them. Or, they could say, "never mind" and plod on to their next mistake.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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