A little grim humor amid the bad financial news

In conducting round after round of interviews over the past few weeks on financial matters great and small, a bit of morbid humor has crept up from time to time, most of it having to do with allusions to the 1929 stock market crash and tales of despairing people who were wiped out jumping out of windows.

In a phone interview, Oblate Father Seamus Finn, a member of the board of the New York-based Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, spelled out some grim possibilities about the current financial crisis. At the end of the interview, I somewhat cheekily advised him not to jump out of any windows. Don’t worry, he told me, “before I jump I’ll call you back so you can send a photographer over to take pictures.”

And Chad Horning of Mennonite Mutual Aid took note of the fact that in that outfit’s home base of Goshen, Ind., the tallest building is but four stories high. “Our building’s only two stories,” he offered. “We might sprain an ankle on the way down.”

In all seriousness, Father Finn told me that the No. 1 criterion for resolving the financial crisis “has to be the people who are most at the periphery of the financial system and failing the most.”

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