One unfortunate consequence of going to the gym is that intellectually stimulating television is banned from the premises. Watching an iPod video is difficult when bouncing up and down on a workout machine, so I usually settle for listening to music and watching the captions on ESPN or CNN, depending on how masochistic I feel.
Maybe I'm just insensitive to the current state of the economy because it hasn't affected me personally, but here's how I translated today's headlines during my workout:
Story: Americans forced to cut back spending during hard times
What I hear: People chose to make risky investments instead of safe ones, believing that the market had nowhere to go but up. Unluckily, they got burned.
My analogy: ESPN convinces me that UNC is sure to go undefeated this year. I bet heavily on them to win their first two conference games; despite being big favorites, they lose both, costing me a huge fraction of my bankroll. Damn you, ESPN!
Story: Obama, Bush request more money for bailout
What I hear: Businesses take risks that don't pan out, and kindly request that taxpayers bear the downside of that risk.
My analogy: I average a loss of $2000 per bet I place, but I'm determined to keep at it instead of letting my German and Japanese friends--who are pro handicappers--make my picks for me. When I go broke, I demand that the government give me some money so I can resume betting and losing. Damn you, bookies!
Story: Economy forces Californians to flee
What I hear: People choosing to live beyond their means complain that they can't afford to do so.
My analogy: I'm happy living in Henderson, but I saw a commercial that people have more fun in the Playboy Suite at the Palms, so I sign a lease there. $25,000/night is pretty steep, but it comes with my own personal butler! After a couple of months, my bank account runs dry, and I grudgingly move out. Damn you, economy!
Story: Credit card companies continue to charge high interest rates
What I hear: Two possibilities. People either think credit card companies should not be allowed to turn a profit, or they believe they should be able to borrow as much money as they want without paying interest.
Or, to put it another way, people choosing to live beyond their means complain that they can't afford to do so.
Personal analogy: My goal is to lose fifteen pounds in the next six months. I could cut out desserts or join a gym, but what I really want right now is to eat a whole cheesecake, then take a nap; I tell myself that I'll eat a salad and work out tomorrow. Six months from now, when I haven't lost any weight, I blame my body for not metabolizing food fast enough. Damn you, body!
I might be crazy, but to me it seems like there are only two kinds of news stories these days:
- "I want to spend money that I don't have, but they won't let me. This isn't fair!"
- "I took a risk and it didn't work out. Save me!"
Personally, I like Tim Harford's take on the economic crisis.