Ego and Greed, the Parents of Depression


by Terry Hogan


There.  I said it. Nobody else seems to want to say the “D word”, but I just did. Although those in the White House and those who run the economic models only use the “R word”, I know the truth.   When the economy is this bad; when there are this many folks unemployed and under-employed, we’re depressed.  We’re not on recess. If they stopped looking at their models, and looked out their windows, they’d see Depression, not Recession.  Recession left the country for New Zealand where the economy is better.


Of course not every one is in Depression.  The wheelers and dealers and their CEO’s who were supposed to provide oversight and exercise responsible behavior still got their bonuses. But they suffer too.  They have to keep their year-old corporate jets rather than trading up…but only because their greed was opened to the light of day.


Am I bitter?  No, I’m depressed.  Haven’t you been paying attention?  The wealthy and powerful have exercised greed without bounds. And it wasn’t just for the money.  It was for stroking the ego and an insane belief that they were entitled to such wealth because of who and what they were. They simply lost touch with reality as they luxuriated in the rarified air of perceived infallibility.   


But the top 0.0001% isn’t the only niche to be blamed.  The Republicans were right.  There is a “trickle down” effect.  Some middle and even lower income folks felt entitled to live beyond all reasonable expectations based on their income.  No money down, variable rate mortgages, six year car loans, provided a seductive way to have it all, when you didn’t have any.


Ego and Greed went hand-in-hand into the dark shadows of Commerce. They produced a bastard child named Depression.  And how did this happen. Ego and Greed were left to their own devices.  The Dr. Spocks of economic theory went to their models and concluded that Greed was good and Ego would be limited in the free market place of open, unfettered Commerce.  The models appeared to lack a negative feedback component.  Ego and Greed didn’t follow the model.  Ego and Greed spiraled in a do-loop of ever increasing desires and expectations. Depression was spawned in a frenzy of unfettered desire.


Unfortunately, some who exercised good sense, showed restraint, and saved for tomorrow also got sucked down the black hole of Depression.  The front edge of the retiring “baby boomers” saw their 401K’s shrink like a cheap shirt in a rainstorm. No amount of conservatism in investments; no amount of diversification in the stock market shielded against the evil spawn of Ego and Greed. When the over-mortgaged house of cards fell, it hurt more than just the Jokers and the Aces.


Obama wanted the job.  He got the job.  It makes you wonder about his mental health. As the saying goes, “Who in their right mind would want…?”   Like the Greek philosopher, Diogenes, Obama now wanders the streets of Washington, shining a low carbon footprint light, looking for an honest man to serve in his administration.  I’d say it was about like looking for a saint in a used car salesmen convention, but I won’t.  I’d just “tick off” the used car salesmen who are probably suffering in this economy too.


Judging from recent events, one could reasonably conclude that the legislators who pass tax laws either felt they were above the applicability of the law, or the laws that they passed were just too complex for them to understand.  Or, could it possibly be Ego and Greed in our elected officials? 


I don’t think Washington or New York has a clue about the impact on those who are not “hogs at the trough”.  Denial, anger, and now depression.  It is an ugly path that many innocent bystanders are forced to walk.  But it is not a one-way path.  With each new published account of Ego and Greed on Wall Street and Washington, the innocent victims take a temporary step back from depression to anger.


Would Illinois have a candidate for Ego and Greed Poster Boy?  I won’t say more on this.  Some stunts need no elaboration.  They are quite eloquent on their own.  But with Illinois’ debt compounding the national economic woes, Depression is likely to make Illinois its summer home when it is too hot in New York and Washington.


I hope Obama has a good light.  It may take him awhile to find an honest person in Washington with executive or legislative experience.