The Worried Citizen’s Little Survival Guide – Stephen Windwalker

The Worried Citizen's Little Survival Guide Okay, so the full title is The Worried Citizen’s Little Survival Guide to the Greatest Financial Crisis of the Century (Understanding and Surviving the Domino Depression)

Man. Windwalker loves those long titles. Really. I own several of his books on the Kindle and have found he can be relied upon to keep his writing on track and useful without losing the novice or boring the expert, so when I found this little gem, I scooped it up. Or the Kindle-download equivalent of scooped, anyway.

I was not disappointed. Those you still buying the talking head’s insistence that our current financial situation is a market “correction” need to pull your heads out of the sand long enough to read this one. I’ve followed the trail of our current global depression for a good while now, and I was impressed by how Windwalker managed to condense the history of the global meltdown into the financial free-fall of Iceland. The breakdown followed a similar course in many other nations, of course, but rather than bash us about the head with it all, he focused on one case in point.

This is a small book and a surprisingly quick read, but it’s not light, by any means. In fact, it is gut-wrenching, but that is scarcely the author’s fault: it’s the topic. Windwalker manages to tie together hyperinflation, climate change, victim nations, weapons proliferation, terrorism, and financial violence and still keep us reading.

Of course, there is some political bias. Windwalker doesn’t claim to be a journalist — not that many journalists these days have a problem with flouting their own political views. But hey, if you can’t read with your own filters intelligently in place, maybe you should just give up reading entirely. ::shrug:: Take up knitting or marksmanship. Personally, I prefer the latter, but I digress.

This is no tale for the shrinking violet. This is the end of the world as we know it. And, despite REM’s assertion to the contrary, I don’t feel so fine. Like most, I lost big time on my 401k. In fact, I no longer even have one. As Windwalker points out, after the crash of 1929, it was 1954 before the Dow rallied to its 1929 level. That’s twenty-five years, folks. Some of us don’t have twenty-five years to wait for the market to recover, let alone the number of years it will take for it to replace what we lost in 2008/2009. Some of us — myself included — will never recover what we invested, let alone what those investments earned. Barring a miracle, I’ll die at my desk, despite whatever age I attain. Nope, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just stating a fact.

The depressing part is, I’ll have plenty of company.

Most of us now lack the money for stock investments. Bonds, which usually fair well in a bad market, are no longer a haven; they’re just another hole. Unemployment and underemployment are leading to a quickly shrinking tax base and God knows who’ll be funding these bailouts. Child abuse indeed. And we haven’t seen the end, yet. The housing crisis may be leveling (please God) but the giant, bank-fed Ponzi scheme that is the looming credit card crisis hasn’t yet hit us. That won’t be pretty.

True to his word on “Surviving the Domino Depression,” Windwalker does provide some hints on how to begin with the “man in the mirror” and make necessary changes in our lives. Those hints are pretty basic: downsizing our properties, taking a closer look at how we define our “needs” and generally re-writing our expectations. I’ll tell you one of the biggest hints: remember that life is for living, not for spending. Get off the track that has fed this roller coaster for decades and remember: you’re a human being. Not a human buying. Think about it.

Well done, Mr. Windwalker. This one needs to be on the best-seller list.