are the cholesterol of the soul --- they block movement, induce stasis, distort goals, and weaken relationships. In short, the more things you have, the more likely your life will end in catastrophic failure.
Torrential greed without any hint of moral constraint or responsibility is not a future worth believing in, fighting for, or participating in.
What am I doing personally? I'm opting out of the entire mess while it melts down -- to the extent I possibly can. How? Setting modest goals, constrained spending (less actually = more), retirement of debt, self production to reduce costs when possible, more time with family/friends, etc.
America used to be a nation of entrepreneurs from small shop owners to farmers. Willing to take big risks for future reward. Unfortunately, what we now produce are merely indentured servants as this Business Week article points out. All those fresh college graduates have been sold (at high cost and lots of debt) the idea that they would get a good job in the global system.
Problem is that the US middle class machine is broken. Not only have wages been stagnant/declining for three decades and costs rising at multiples of inflation -- from education to health to housing -- it's not producing new jobs at a rate that can absorb those that want to work. Worse, the entrepreneurial system is broken too. Creativity/entrepreneurial energy become a low cost slave of finance (banksters) due to an economic system now penalizes risk taking (bankruptcy reform legislation that is akin to the 19th Century) and a morally bankrupt/predatory system for company formation.
Good luck kids. My suggestion, move back in with your parents. Get involved in resilient community industries. When the dollar crumps (and it will), everything produced on the local level will be VERY competitive with those from the global system.
The FTC tries to regulate blogging. Even Facebook pages? LOL.
Hmm... This type of situation is ripe for privatization. In short, the formula for privatization is: pass a stupid law that turns millions into lawbreakers, attach a big fine to it, and outsource the collection (with 50% or more of the fee going to the collector).
Another bailout is going crump. The cash for clunkers is starting to look like a failure. It merely sucked fall sales forward and the slump is back on.
All of these bailouts are a waste of time since they are aimed at the same thing: a revival of the debt-fueled economy. The only program with potential is debt retirement for the middle class.
The immediate remedy involves: simpler and easier bankruptcy, low cost government sponsored loans that allow a wind down of debt with excessive rates (credit cards, mortgages, etc.), and principle reductions on underwater mortgages.
The longer term fix is returning to the old social contract that rewards increases in worker productivity to increases in incomes.
NONE of this will happen: ergo the secular decline of America will inexorably continue.