money musings

Editor’s warning: I am about to sound like your grandmother for a second. But …

When I was a senior in high school, a gallon of gas cost 99 cents. (I can even recall seeing signs for 89 cents a gallon in parts of southern New Hampshire.) Not even 10 years later, I just filled up the ‘Ru’s tank for a whopping $4 a gallon. And that is actually after it peaked in San Francisco at nearly $4.70/gallon. Regardless, the increase is more than 400 percent in less than a decade. For some perspective, and I may be off by a quarter, in 1999 minimum wage in Massachusetts was $5.25. It is now $8.00 an hour.

Now, I may not be a math genius, but it seems that somewhere between 1999 and today, something went terribly wrong. And with the Fed proposing a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street firms it appears we are officially lodged somewhere between totally f-ed and start stuffing your mattresses with your savings. (Can anyone in the White House confirm if we in a recession yet?)

I will admit. I have no financial background or expertise. Only yesterday I learned how to invest online. But after reading reports about some of the Senators making decisions on this record-setting government bailout having almost as much experience in money matters, I am beginning to wonder if maybe I am not so unqualified after all. (Sidenote: Maybe now I can run as VP? I am female! I have fired a shotgun! I have creds!)

To me, the $700 billion bailout seems … vague. No one appears to be able to answer two very important questions: Is this the real cost? And more importantly, will it work? I realize this is totally irresponsible of me to pose, but what if we didn’t spend $700 billion bailing out Wall Street? What if we spent a small portion of it helping the people who purchased the bad loans to pay for their houses? What would happen then? Wouldn’t the markets eventually sort themselves out?

I just learned that Warren Buffett is going to invest $5 billion in Goldman Sachs. What if we fore-go the government bailout for firms and just let people like Buffett do the investing? Just a thought.

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