Sunday 12 October 2008

Credit crunch: No man is an island ... it tolls for thee

The times are troubled

In these troubled times when the markets have gone into irrational freefall such that the first principles of free marketeering have failed to contain the excesses and fear rules like the darkest pall of an approaching tornado; one is left to reflect.

When the storm started brewing last year, there must have been many who thought their savings were secure, their pensions were fine, the stock markets had just reached their highest peaks and the values of their homes were in the stratosphere.

I first got hit by the fallout of the occurrences in the United States in November when my mortgage interest rate got a 50% hike which in monetary terms was a good whack on the goolies.

It affects us all

I have been fine, but a lot more has been going on and it has come closer to home than one finds comfortable.

If ever we thought the credit crunch as a distant rumour we know reality now; if ever we thought our savings were safe as in they were put in Fort Knox, there are many who cannot enter to get their money now; if ever we thought the bailout would quench the fire like a tsunami would wipe out everything, we only have to see how the markets tumble like an avalanche at Mount Everest.

The Titanic and the free market

There was a time when a great ocean liner [1] was built that many touted as unsinkable, so was the great free market economy that brought prosperity to many.

As it went through the waters of the Arctic Ocean someone spotted a large iceberg just as some saw that the debts and mortgages cannot been sustained but no one did anything about it and ripped into the hull of the ocean liner.

There was an emergency which has been called a credit crunch and all the experts and crew gathered to find ways to either keep the boat afloat or save the souls from perishing.

When they finally got the life boats out the women and children were allowed on first, these for the US Treasury were the banks – the men had to stay behind – men and women, families, people struggling with high prices, unaffordable mortgages, astronomical energy bills and so on.

Bale out or bail out

As we have been told, if the women and children in the eyes of the US Treasury were safe, they might just end up helping the men – bunkum.

There was no way they could bail out the water fast enough to stop the boat from taking on more water and sinking – this is no funny situation we are bailing out like mice from a sinking ship they say this financial situation is as bad as the Depression of the 1930s, I can go back to 1912 as see a great human disaster of Titanic proportions.

It tolls for thee

But we pray as we have baled out in the cold icy waters that we might just be able to hold out till when Carpathia arrives; for this affects all rather than the few, it is global in its ramifications and local in its effects, no man is an island adrift from these times and troubles – it brings us to the quietest contemplation of realities of life and death for in the words of John Donne [2] we did ask for whom the bell tolls long ago as the financial turmoil began to unravel – Alas, as he went on to say – it tolls for thee.

And so suddenly we have to heed the words of our leaders, we are all in this together and all countries should coordinate their plans together to get out of this rather humongous mess.

The abridged version of For whom the bell tolls [3] appears below but the fuller version of the sonnet appears here from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions [4].

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.


[1] RMS Titanic - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] John Donne - Poetry Foundation: The online home of the Poetry Foundation

[3] Home -> Inspirations -> Poems -> For Whom the Bell Tolls - John Donne

[4] John Donne - For whom the Bell Tolls

Bale out/Bail out - World Wide Words

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