Apparently, it is the middle class, not the greed heads in banking and on Wall Street, that is responsible for the current economic crisis.
We've run up our credit cards and borrowed against our houses and spent until the well went dry. Now our houses aren't worth what we owe on them, and there is no more room on the credit cards. Our wages are stagnant, or we're out of work altogether, and we can't pay what we owe.
The economy is in the tank, and it is all our fault.
I wish the government would make up its mind.
I thought we middle-class strivers were the gasoline in this country's economic engine.
I thought we were the reason the standard of living in this country was so high that even the poor had big-screen TVs. I thought our spending kept people employed, making the stuff we thought we needed.
I thought I was being patriotic, in the wake of Sept. 11, when I put aside my fear of public places and returned to the mall to shop and to show the terrorists that the great U.S. economy could not be stopped, no matter what they did to its financial centers.
I thought I was supporting failing U.S. automakers (not to mention two brothers-in-law who work in the auto industry) when I bought American cars.
Now that I have run out of ways to keep this foolish spending spree going, I find out that my over-extended self and my deluded sense of entitlement are the reasons for all this trouble.
But I am not supposed to worry because the Fed is lowering interest rates and that will make more money available, and it will be cheap money and I will want to borrow some of it to buy stuff and that will get the economy going again.
If you are confused, raise your hand.
I feel like a kid trying to obey the rules, but the adults keep changing those rules. I don't have any confidence in those adults anymore - or their markets - and as a result of my lack of confidence, those markets are falling through the floor. My bad. Again.
Now I am waiting for a rebate check from the IRS, and I am supposed to spend it (locally and on U.S. products) in order to jump-start the economy.
I am not supposed to use it to pay down my credit cards or my mortgage because that won't do any good, even though it was my credit cards and my home equity loan that got this country into so much trouble.
Neither do I. None of this makes sense. It isn't about money. It is about perceptions. It isn't about maxed-out credit cards, its about confidence.
I do know this. If the great strivers of the middle class stop spending - whether because we don't have any credit left or we are frightened into doing so - this ship will be dead in the water.
I am sorry for all the trouble my spending has caused.
But wait until you see what happens when I stop.
That won't be a perception. That will be a reality.