Sunday, July 26, 2009

The 14 stages of financial meltdown

Just like every tragedy in life, there is a process that every individual/major corporation/government goes through when experiencing financial loss for the first time. Because of the trauma and emotional complexity of going broke, the recovery process is more prolonged than your run of the mill disaster like death or divorce.
Based on my personal experience and intensive study, I've outlined the stages and given examples of common corresponding emotions and reactions. Invariably, each stage must be experienced fully by all three sectors in order for all of us to move on and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

1) Denial: You cope by telling yourself/shareholders/nation that everything will be fine because this can't be happening to an award winning copywriter and cardmember since 1993/a multinational corporation/America.

2) Shock: This period is characterized by numbness and an inability to act. A typical reaction is to watch reality TV for hours on end/go on corporate retreats/take a holiday break.

3) Denial: You help stimulate the economy by buying a $1,600 Chloe bag/an $80,000 commode for your office suite/billions of dollars in toxic assets.

4) Bargaining: Once you realize you can't meet your monthly minimum payments, a desperate search for funds commences. New credit lines are opened. Begging parents/The Federal Reserve/Nancy Pelosi for help can be expected during this stage.

5) Denial: Now that relief is in sight, old habits resume. You tell yourself that there will never be a full recovery unless you purchase a periwinkle blue cashmere sweater/Gulfstream jet/more toxic assets.

6) Fear: It finally hits you that your debt is mounting and productivity is down. Dark thoughts, such as "what if I never work again and have to live in the street?"/"What if I don't get my 46 million dollar bonus?"/"what if I don't get re-elected" may torment you.

7) Denial: You're convinced that with a little creative reshuffling you won't have to give up your previous way of life. You stock up on necessities such as ramen/lobbyists/pork.

8) Isolation: You avoid human interaction. You don't answer your phone, knowing it's from a phone bank in Asia/a bank in Asia/the Asian government, calling in your debt.

9) Denial: You site examples such as "I have a job interview next week"/"the market is stabilized"/"fewer people are googling economic recession" as proof that things are on the upswing.

10) Anger: At this point you'll become enraged at the unfairness of it all. You'll lash out and try to assign blame for your loss. In this volatile and muddled state, rage is commonly deflected into secondary but highly emotional issues like Jon and Kate/executive compensation caps/the opposition party's sex life.

11) Denial: You issue facebook updates/profit reports/press releases that imply things are getting better.

At this point, while individuals move on to the final stages, Wall Street and the government repeat stages 1-11. We can only hope they catch up to complete the following stages of the recovery process soon.

12) Sorrow: A period of mourning the loss of your financial security. You're finally able to cry over the possibility of never seeing your pension plan, doctor, and complete protein again.

13) Reconciliation: You begin to accept the fact that your credit rating and job opportunities are gone forever (or seven years, whichever comes first), and that your dreams of living like a pasha may be unattainable. You might consider a more ascetic, spiritual path. Some learn new skills like doing their own pedicures, learning Chinese and if you're an individual, theft (the other two branches have already mastered that one).

14) Recovery: You're finally ready to let go of your past way of life and move on to the next phase. Some relocate to a place where there's still hope of living the American dream (best bets are Latvia and Slovenia). Some move in with their parents or into a homeless shelter. Others find free room and board in prison.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creative dentistry

There's only one thing worse than going to the dentist: not being able to afford going to the dentist when you need one.

While the health care crisis is a hot topic these days, people remain tight lipped about the dental crisis looming in America.

Most basic insurance plans offer a dental option. You pay $30 - $50 a month extra and if you're not denied coverage because your teeth are a preexisting condition, you may be reimbursed $20 for an $800 root canal. A moot point since you can't afford a basic insurance plan in the first place.

Dental work often costs more than medical procedures, and it's pretty much pay to play. Even if you give up food (which you may have to do anyways for lack of teeth), anyone struggling financially, will have to find new and creative approaches to oral emergencies.

After years of financial and dental decay, I've compiled a comprehensive list on how to ease the physical and emotional discomfort of poor dental health.

Cavities: If only all dental problems were this easy. Just fill the cavities with gum (preferably sugarless) or wax. A nice peppermint scented candle will freshen your breath at the same time.

Exposed nerve/root canal: Again, wax or gum fillings can be lifesavers, protecting the nerve from excrutiating contact with air. If the pain persists, thoroughly rinse your mouth with cheap vodka before swallowing. It works as both a numbing and antibacterial agent. If symptoms persist after numerous applications, find the nearest dental school and make an appointment for their free group training sessions. Make sure to bring an iPod to drown out the screams.

Tooth reconstruction, implants, crowns oral surgery: This stuff really adds up. Often, one simple procedure can cost more than your entire Citicard balance. If you can find a willing periodontist to marry, this may be your best option. Check the phone books and start calling around. You'll still need to pay for crowns, lab work and dentures, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the periodontist fees. And now that you're married to a doctor, at least you have a breadwinner in the family to pay for it.

If you can't find a suitable periodontist and you're good with your hands, try carving teeth out of ivory, plastic marble or clay and engineer something with paper clips and crazy glue.

If none of these options work, you'll probably have to settle for some superficial adjustments.
Practice talking with your mouth closed. (link to learning ventriloquism).

Wax lips are an inexpensive way to cover up a hole in your smile, and some women pay thousands of dollars to get the exact same look. It's also an inexpensive replacement for lipstick (a near match for NARS Tango).

Wear a surgical mask when you go out in public. Your friends may think you're weirdly germaphobic or mourning Michael Jackson if you wear it in black, but at least they won't think you're broke. It will also protect you from swine flu.

Browse the novelty stores for an attractive set of vampire teeth. They're reasonably priced at $3.29, (versus $50,000 for six new upper teeth if done professionally). What with the popularity of Twilight and vampires in general, you can smile in style.

Fashion yourself a grill out of tin foil to hide a vacant or chipped tooth. It's a lot edgier than flashing a toothless grin or snarl.

Avoid all activities that involve smiling or laughter. Better yet, avoid anything that requires any facial movement and you'll also save yourself thousands of dollars in future Botox and Restalyne treatments.