10 July 2008

Whom to blame for the credit crisis

Ben Bernanke.

Forbes Magazine called it, 'way back when Bernanke decided to stop the madness of speculation in real estate.

He could have eased back ... slowly ... and let people wake up gently.

One can only speculate that he was new in his job, and wanted people to know he was boss. So, he slammed on the brakes.

We are paying the consequences.

The abrupt rise in interest rates squeezed homeowners who had gotten in way over their heads, with risky mortgages with inflexible balloon payments.

They quit buying. Businesses started feeling the pinch.

Add in gas prices, and there you have it: a mess.

Bernanke evidently didn't figure in the logic of markets.

Had he been more moderate in the controls he imposed, the gas price hikes would have taken care of the problem for him, restricting people's spending and helping them wake up to financial reality.

That said, it's not fair to make Bernanke our Dad when it comes to money.

Too many of us overspent. Too many of us didn't factor in The Future, with its unknowns. We bought on credit, got into upside-down mortgages, and refused to save money.

We were greedy.

We didn't trust God to provide our needs and legitimate wants within our incomes.

We declared it was our "right" to have new shoes, a vacation, a facelift, a new book, or a car.

I'm hurting, too. I have some debts that make me think I'll be 70 before they're paid off.

However, I'm OK for right now. God has provided me what I need, and SO much of what I truly want: Himself, and heart's ease in family and friends.

I was already in tight-budget mode before this began. In fact, I had the opportunity to sell my house, without fixing it up, for an astronomical sum of money, five years ago. I passed on the chance. It would have meant moving someplace which cost an equally astronomical sum, and I didn't want to leave California. And my house is a blessing in disguise: it's terribly shabby, but it's in a lovely spot. I enjoy privacy, safety, and quiet - all of which are extremely important to me right now.

So God has provided. I'm learning to trust Him more and more.

Maybe this current crisis will be an opportunity for others to do the same... to abandon themselves to His love, and quit worrying about clothes and food and, most particularly, status.

The only status that matters is where we stand before Him ... or, rather, kneel.

God cannot give to those whose hands and minds are hearts are full of themselves and their "accomplishments."

It is hard to empty oneself, let go, let God. I know. It is a daily, sometimes hourly, discipline.

But I can tell you this: it's a LOT easier to do it voluntarily than to wait for Him to pry away the pretty things for your own good. Because, sometimes, He cannot do it gently, because we will not take the point otherwise.

He is there to help through the hurt... but He'd so much rather you never got hurt at all! By trying to care for yourself without reference to, and guidance from, Him, however, you are setting yourself up for pain.

Lots of lessons to learn, for all of us, these days. May God grant we will be humble, teachable, and open to His leadings.

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