Written by Whitney Laas
I was making myself some ramen noodles Monday night and I knocked on my roommate’s door to let her know about the latest atrocity in the news.
“So… you know Citigroup? One of the companies that received bailout money? They just bought a 50 million dollar jet*,” I said as I turned the dial on our archaic McCombs apartment microwave.
Once Sarah confirmed my assertion via the all-knowing, all-powerful New York Times, we went on to discuss the absurdity of the matter and eventually launched into a full-scale freak-out about the future of our world. In essence, this is how our conversation progressed – minus the copious amounts of cursing and grunts of general frustration:
On what planet would it have seemed like a good idea for Citigroup to throw away millions of dollars on a luxury jet when they just received a government handout and are hoping to receive more in the future? At least Chrysler pouring millions into the sure-to-fail Terminator 4 movie has the façade of attempting to boost revenue by means of self-promotion (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,481164,00.html). Forgive me if I’m completely ignorant and fail to see how a fancy plane for CEOs could, in fact, help out a struggling company (http://www.nypost.com/seven/01262009/news/nationalnews/just_plane_despicable_152033.htm), but I’m fairly certain it can’t. Even if this is some sort of attempt to show the world that they’re still a powerful company their efforts are clearly futile. The name of your company and its use of our tax dollars has already been plastered over the news. There’s no fooling anyone Citigroup; we know you’re broke! Try using the few remaining dollars you have left for something that at least gives the illusion that you want to save your company.
It’s just so discouraging to see people you care about losing their jobs as part of mass corporate layoffs – done on the day of inauguration in an effort to deflect negative media coverage no less (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/21/technology/21clear.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink) – and to see that many of the people on this lowly newpaper’s staff can’t get internships because every major paper in the country is struggling for their last breath, yet companies like Citigroup still have the audacity to throw away millions on luxury items.
The returns on every university’s endowments are shrinking. New students can’t get loans. The job market is only getting smaller. At this rate we’re all going to be stupid and jobless. What happens when we can’t get jobs with our exorbitantly pricey, private school educations? What good does a bachelor’s degree – or a PhD for that matter – do when there aren’t any jobs out there? I have ZERO useful skills for the impending apocalypse! I can’t fix my own car or build a shelter or trap small edible mammals; I can barely boil water for my ramen noodles. How are we supposed to survive an economic depression?
And I’m not being sensational or dramatic when I use the word “depression;” it’s a real possibility whether we want to think about it or not. Honestly, if we were in a depression would they even tell us? That was one of the exacerbating factors of the Great Depression – panic induced by the media – so it seems entirely feasible that if we were headed for one, they wouldn’t tell us anyhow!
In short, the times ahead of us are sure to be rather rocky ones. I’m not smart enough to even begin to know how to fix it all, but I sure as hell hope someone can. I just wish it were possible to eat my ramen in peace without being incensed or scared out of my mind every time I consume the news. *Just after writing this blog Citigroup announced that they would NOT be buying their multimillion dollar jet after all. Smart move Citigroup.