Election 2008 — The fat lady sings

I was trying to stay awake last night to watch the presidential debate. No luck. I was long asleep before Dancing With The Stars reached its finale. And from what I’ve heard and read this morning I didn’t miss much. Another yawner with Obama and McCain. Ho-hum.

And that reflects the reality that the campaign essentially is over. The fat lady sung loud and long on Wall Street yesterday. Say goodnight, John. It’s over.

I believe John McCain is a decent and honorable man. Too bad we didn’t have the opportunity to elect him president eight years ago. But it didn’t happen then. It ain’t going to happen now.

The Republicans nationally run basically on two points. One, they are stronger on national defense. Two, they are the best stewards of the economy.

My friends, those notions are as bankrupt as Lehman Brothers. No terrorist attack could have done as much damage to the world economy as the policies of the Bush administration, Republicans heading the regulatory agencies and the Republican members of Congress (with some pathetic support, of course, from the doofuses on the other side of the aisle).

So with the election behind us — let’s figure out what to do about the financial meltdown.

It’s tough to sit back and watch your retirement and other savings evaporate. The problem is that most people — including myself — can’t really do much about it. And good financial advice is hard to get — and often contradictory.

But I was watching an interview last night on CNN with Suze Orman, the well-known financial guru and author of best-selling books on personal financial. Here are some of the points she made; most just involve some good common sense.

First, as much as you can — as as quickly as you can — reduce debt, particularly high interest credit card debt.

Second, if you are working, continue to take advantage of employer-sponsored savings plans — and any matching employer contributions.

Third, don’t panic. This is particularly good advice if you are in your 30s or 40s; time really is on your side. And no one really wants to reach out and catch a falling sword.

Fourth, if you’re retired or closing in on retirement, you’re screwed. Oops. Just kidding. But it is more difficult because you do have to protect your savings — and if you sell at a loss, or are too conservative, you run the risk of not having enough money during what could be (and hopefully will be) a long retirement. This becomes all the more dicey if you don’t have a guaranteed pension plan — which most people don’t have these days.

Fifth, for those at any age and still not retired, consider that you are basically on your own when it comes to saving for retirement. Start early. Save as much as you can. Don’t touch your retirement savings for anything other than retirement. Ever.

And I just heard on NPR that the Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates prior to the opening on Wall Street this morning. The Fed took this emergency action in conjunction with the central banks of nations around the world.

If this doesn’t help some, here’s some other advice.

Pray.

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