Friday, March 13, 2009

Jon Stewart grills Jim Cramer

Wow. I've been a Daily Show/Jon Stewart fan for a long time, but he really laid into Jim Cramer from CNBC last night, in a way that needed to be done. I expected a slightly softer interview, but it was uncomfortable to watch (but in a good way) because Jon was so tough. To echo so many other bloggers, why is it that it takes a comedian to ask the hard questions of people in the financial business?

For me, the interview was yet another reminder (they're everywhere these days) to reconsider how much I've bought into this whole notion of our 401K acting as a pseudo bank account that will grow steadily until we retire and make life plush and easy. Putting money into the stock market is not actually saving money--it's investing. Over the past decade, many Americans have come to look at those two things as being the same (hence the Bush administration's push to haul Social Security into the stock market).

In order for me to continue being a writer, I've always known that we need to live within our means. Getting into debt in order to consume more stuff or take trips or buy a fancier car or house, explicitly meant that I would eventually end up quitting as a writer and have to go off to make money (unless I hit the lottery and sold something that made it big). Not everyone else has the choices so clearly laid out, but there are always trade offs to taking on debt and excessive consumption, even if they're hard to visualize. I'm glad to see Jon Stewart, at least a tiny bit, be tough of some of the forces that have been pushing so hard the notion of easy money.

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