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The Final Word
by Bruce Bellingham

You may or may not have heard that Groundhog Day was cancelled this year. Yes, just like they called off the New Year’s bash at the Hyatt Regency for poor ticket sales. Groundhog Day wasn’t officially abandoned, of course. It was quietly overlooked because Punxsutawney Phil is now afraid of his own shadow. He stayed in his hole, cowering, afraid to impart any more bad news and bum out people even more than they are now. As you know, if he sees his shadow, the recession will continue. If he doesn’t, the good people of Punxsutawney, Penn. will apply for a bailout. Things have been pretty gloomy in Punxsutawney these days, as they are in most towns across America.
Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions used to be limited to the weather. Then he realized he couldn’t do any worse than Alan Greenspan, so Phil became an economist. In 2009, an economist is someone who has outlived his uselessness. Economists are even more unnecessary than writers – I didn’t think that was possible.

Aw, I’m just kidding. The politicians, that is, regulators or nonregulators, wouldn’t listen to the economists anyway. As for writers, that is, columnists, they come down from their hiding places in the woods when the battle is over and finish off the wounded. That’s their job.

George W. Bush finally got around to calling it a recession before he left Washington with his head held high. Of course, everyone already knew that it was a recession. His job was to belabor the obvious and make it sound convincing. Now that things are worsening, I hear the phrase “depression-recession.” That’s where it’s headed. Why not call it what it is? A decession.
The movie Groundhog Day became a metaphor for being trapped in a manic sameness, one day repeating itself, again and again – it becomes a tortuous predictability. But life these days has become turbulent, unpredictable, raucous, and dangerous. It emulates the stock market roiling with that inevitable word intoned by the Cassandras of the airwaves – volatility. 

This is why Punxsutawney Phil now considers the world too scary to risk leaving his hole – unless he’s dragged out by ambitious publicists and members of the Chamber of Commerce again. And who could blame him? At least he still has a home. We’ve certainly dug a big hole for ourselves, but I wouldn’t be so sure we can crawl into it and hide. The whole idea of private property seems to have turned out to be a whole lot of malarkey. That hole belongs to the bank. The banks get bailed out – we don’t.

Bruce Bellingham, a columnist for the Marina Times and Media People, is the author of Bellingham by the Bay, published by Council Oak Books.

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