Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 9/15/2008 [Archive]

Hitting Bottom

Hitting Bottom

By Martha Randolph Carr

This week the federal government finally recognized that propping up large institutions is a bad idea. Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail and is considering filing for bankruptcy protection as employees in the New York office begin to carry home their personal belongings.

That doesn't mean the bad economic news is over just yet but at least now we are beginning to deal with the financial crisis instead of throwing taxpayer money at it. Merrill Lynch saw there would be no bail out if things worsened for them and is now in merger talks with Bank America. Others may follow as the week progresses.

The Federal Reserve will announce any adjustment to interest rates this week as well but don't expect there to be any significant reaction from Wall Street. Financial markets worldwide are more anxiously awaiting the byzantine accounting by the large financial institutions to be pulled apart for inspection. This will reveal a more accurate picture of just how many bad real estate deals are wrapped up inside. The world markets realize that most of them will have to be written off and it will become possible to tell which companies will survive the economic bloodletting and which ones will not.

That will also give a better indication of whether or not we're in a recession with economic growth momentarily slipping backwards or a depression with the value of commodities sliding down to a more permanent and lower baseline.

Unfortunately, the most likely discovery is that there is more widespread bad debt still being carried than is still being recognized. That could shake confidence even further and push us closer to depression.

With less that two months to go till the U.S. presidential elections the economy is sure to become a front-burner in the coming debates. Perhaps this big reality check will help all of us to focus on things like the economy, rising fuel prices and global warming and less on how marvelous it would be to legislate faith.

Once again, a loyalty test is being whipped out, but this time it's surrounding God and Palin is being used as the pass or fail question. Supporting Palin is supposed to be a sign of whether or not we really put God first in our lives. McCain is barely mentioned these days and has managed to become an afterthought in the Republican candidacy for president.

But here's another area where we aren't looking at the truth behind all of the arm waving. Faith can't be legislated or forced down the throats of anyone. The people who founded this country knew that and it's one of the bigger reasons why they fled Europe and sought religious freedom.

And history has shown us often enough what happens when a country opens the door to allowing faith to legislate. There are always those who will use the opening to harm others based on some intrinsic quality such as race, religion or gender. It becomes more acceptable, even if only subtle at first, to turn someone down for a promotion or to buy a house in a certain neighborhood because they just aren't the right kind of people.

But there is a really good rule of thumb when it comes to faith that we could use right now and particularly when we all arrive to vote this November.

Faith is a very simple doctrine that says we first come together as individuals who are intent on doing the right thing without expectations of others or of outcome. If we have to survey the crowd then trust in something bigger has been removed and so has faith. Then, manipulation is being employed out of fear to get a certain response. See, that's the tricky thing about faith. If you have to pull it out as a means to identify friend or foe, it was never there in the first place.

The consequences of allowing elected officials to wave the religious banner as a rallying cry is that we all stopped working on what we could actually change -- the economy -- and are wasting a lot of time posturing instead. In November, vote for the candidate who trusted you enough to believe that freedom in America has a wider definition and take note that Barack Obama's been standing out in front of his campaign all along and with solutions, not rigged loyalty tests.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com. Download Martha Randolph Carr's black and white mug shot photo.

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