DOWNTIME Part 8 – Welcome to the Year of the Ox
Today begins the Chinese Year of the Ox. I wasn’t sure how much stock to put in the Chinese Year of the ___ stuff. (Right now I’m not buying stock in anything.) Then I had a brainstorm. I can easily see if there is anything to this Chinese New Year stuff by looking back at what 2008 was the year of.
Hahahahah. The Year of the Rats. Well, 2008 was certainly that with many of them jumping ship with golden parachutes on. (Unfortunately for the rats golden parachutes are not the best life preservers when jumping a sinking ship because they tend to sink faster and entangle more. It would have been a good time for lightweight float. The golden parachutes will entanble some of these guys in 2009. That’s one of my predictions for ’09, die-hard optimist that I am.) There was never a year of more rats than last year. On the other hand.
The Chinese Obviously Do Not Know Their Rats
According to Chinese mythology, a rat year (like 2008) is a time of hard work, activity and renewal … a time to begin a new job, launch a product or make a fresh start. Hmm. Not exactly a good description of 2008, which was a year of no work for many, and poor work for everyone in the banking industry and anything but renewal. Certainly not a good year to begin a new job.
So it seems on the face of things, but, like so many things, it depends on how you look at it: 2008 was certainly a year in which you should have begun a new job if you were ever going to — the first one that came across your path if you were out of work — because there certainly aren’t going to be many jobs in 2009. (This is the year when bankers start flipping burgers.) And, while 2008 was not a good year to make a fresh start, it certainly forced a lot of fresh starts.
Overall, though, I think the Chinese need to rethink their rats in light of Western experience with the little plaguers. Rather than industrious hard-working creatures that bring renewal, we in the West know that rats lounge at the top of the world banking structure. They tend to eat paper (like money) and build nests for themselves out of it (like golden parachutes). They tend to shred paper (like documents they’d rather not let people see) and build more nests for their families out of it. They tend to leave droppings in their nest for others to have to clean up. And they just don’t smell good.
But the Chinese Haven’t Got it All Wrong
In the Chinese mythological view the rat is shrewd, inventive, charming and ambitious. That does seem to describe Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson. Rats are also clever and sociable and readily adapt to changing circumstances to save themselves. Well, they did re-adapt the entire U.S. economy toward socialism in less than half a year because of changing circumstances, and they did it less by the strength of their ideas than by charming Congress into swallowing anything they said (though not exactly with relish any more). And that is somewhat clever, though one doesn’t have to be particularly clever to outwit Congress these days. As for ambitious? What could me more ambitious than the man who goes to Congress and says, “Write me a blank check for $750,000,000,000. And says it with a straight face. And gets it! “Trust me!” What can be more ambitious than a man who helps break the bank at Goldman Sachs and then becomes head of the entire U.S. Treasury? So, that was 2008, the Year of the Rat.
Thus, the more accurate image of the rat comes when you combine the negative Western stigma of the rat with the positive Chinese evaluation of the rats capabilities. That’s when you wind up with a perfect description of the people who transformed the U.S. economy into something that we have not yet even invented a precise word for, except that it seems quite a bit like the economics of the NAZI party. (Maybe not the morals, but certainly the economics)
The Neo-Socialist Conservatives, like George “I-had-to-give-up-my-free-market-principles-to save-the-free-market” Bush, have changed the world in less than a year. Shoot, they did most of it in one quarter!
So, make 2008 the year of the ship-jumping, paper-shredding, shrewd little social creatures that build their nests out of other people’s money, add a pointy nose, and 2008 was definitely the year of the rats.
In which case, what does 2009, The Year of the Ox, hold in store?
The ox is persevering, stable, finds prosperity through fortitude and hard work, and has strong character. Hey, this sounds like my year! It certainly doesn’t describe anyone in the upper echelon of banking these days, but it is definitely the kind of characteristic that it is going to behoove (sorry) all of us to have if we’re going to pull through and get out of this mud hole. Oxen are also https://www.honeytraveler.com/buy-diflucan/ noted as loyal and as organizers. (Maybe economic reorganizers.) Oxen are renowned for their patience, but when it reaches its limits, they’re renowned for their temper. Oxen tend to have strong work ethics. Ancient Chinese beliefs aside, this is the kind of year where ONLY people of such description are likely to make it through in good shape. And we need a good dose of vented ire right now, too, to make sure the guys with parachute lines tangled around their legs go straight to the brig … in the sinking ship … at the bottom of the sea … where all low-life should settle in a nest made of whale dung. And the more of us who take on those oxen qualities, the better we will do as families and friends when pulling through tough times. The times will most certainly get tougher; but those who get tougher right along with them will persevere. So, this really is a year for the ox.
I see that Barack Obama is an ox by birth. What could be better than a natural-born ox in a year dedicated to the ox? He will have to persist diligently in order to stabilize things, and that is the ox’s best strength. The ox’s home is said to be his castle, and Obama’s home literally is the U.S. castle, which he acquired in the month the year of Obama began. (I mean “year of the ox.”) Without a doubt, the vast majority of the world is looking upon Obama as the man to pull the world through these deeply mired times.
Don’t underestimate the man. While he’s an extreme liberal in his voting policies when representing a liberal state, he’s also smart enough to know that you have to steer the country toward the center if you want to succeed in U.S. leadership. He’s already shown he’s a man willing to try to listen to both sides and find consensus if it can be found. There’s enough of the practical, shrewd rat in him to know what he needs to do and probably to resist some of his more liberal tendencies in order to stay with the practical and the achievable and not to create more divides at a time when the country is already being torn to shreds. He doesn’t want to end up like Bush, who left the White House with “Good Riddance” written on his helicopter (in the minds of the vast majority of Americans and others).
We are asked to pray for our leaders, not to assume they are the antiChrist ahead of the facts. All assumptions prior to Barack Obama about who is the antiChrist have been wrong or remain unproven by real events. Such speculating is almost always useless and should cease. Praying with a generous heart that hopes the best of the man will be what God brings forward in these heavily burdened times certainly has to be what is best for the nation and even the world. It’s the kind of prayer for a new year and a new administration that would seem more likely to be received warmly in heaven than one that too quickly assumes more evil than the facts yet bear just because of partisan divides and political labels.
As the Apostle Paul argued, pray for your leaders that it may go well with you, meaning that, if things go well for the leaders, things go better for everyone. He said that at a time when they often had some truly evil leaders. So, hope and pray for the best. Be slow to slander, quick to praise, strong as an ox in encouraging another who is shouldering the heaviest load a president has shouldered in many decades. Care not whether Left, Right, Democrat or Republican succeeds. Care that good succeeds. Division does not serve well in times of duress. Oxen work as a team and only work well when they pull evenly together. We cannot help the fact that Democrats and Republicans share the yoke. That isn’t going to change. Perseverance is made easier even for an ox, however, by genuine encouragement while putting our own shoulders into the yoke, too.
That doesn’t mean we don’t criticize truly dumb ideas or stand against wrong doing, but we cannot merely stand against what is wrong; we must first and foremost give positive support to what is good and noble and right. Hence, I start this first article of the Chinese New Year on a supportive note, even though the purpose of Downtime is to lampoon the ridiculous that parades as self-important and wise in order to strip away the veils of denial that enabled this economic collapse in the first place. Downtime about getting real. And deeper understanding is not found in labels. Nor is teamwork found in a divided house. This is a time when teamwork is essential for survival — at home, in the neighborhood, and in the Capital.