2009 is hastily coming to an end and so many people are anxious to see it gone. Though we began the year triumphantly with the inauguration of the nation’s first African American President, Barack Obama, The momentum grew stagnant and for many Americans it stopped. One of the most detrimental drop stops for Americans was employment. The pool dried up this year. The nation’s unemployment rate topped 10% this year. Some states were hit harder than others. California rose to over 12% and not to be outdone, Michigan closed in on 15%.
Meanwhile, foreclosures are still seeping the air out of balloon priced homes. The Mortgage Bankers Associations reports that 1 in every 200 homes in the country will be in foreclosure at some point. President Obama made the economy a priority as his administration launched a new program called “Hope” helping stave off crushing mortgage payments. Modification became the new “it” word as lenders pledged to right their wrongs and rework, even forgive delinquent customers mounting debt. But it seems the message only reached a chosen few 4%, in fact, of those seeking help got it. The rest seemed, well, “Hope”-less.
But the economy wasn’t all thunder and lightening, some folks caught a glimpse of the rainbow. As the President promised an end to the recession, banks rallied. Chase reported $3.6 billion in profits in the 3rd quarter of 2009 earning a total revenue of $28.8 billion. Also, Bank of America was so comfortable with its outlook it paid back the $45 billion stimulus package granted by the government during the height of the economic collapse. Big business seemed to smile out the common man’s suffering. And so it goes.
Mid way through the year most of us had become almost immune to bad news because there was so much of it. NBC news went so far as to commit a segment to good news to help combat the “sky is falling” message mass media outlets seemed to be comfortable delivering.
But no one was immune to the shocking loss of a legend. Michael Jackson the King of Pop/ Father of three/ boy genius/ accused boy molester, died two months shy of his 51st birthday and a few days before his comeback tour. Some say had he never known Dr. Conrad Murray he may have made 2009’s list for the latter. Though not as shocking many were as sad to say good-bye to Patrick Swayze and Farrah Fawcett who both succumb to cancer. And just last week “Clueless” actress Brittany Murphy died at the age of 32 leaving her family without a clue as to why.
In recent memory I can’t recall stormier season. We’ve literally lived between shock and awe. Shocked at the tactics of banks who mercilessly watched as 81% of California small businesses crumbled, and in awe of President Obama who’s status rose yet again as winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
We were consumed by controversy courtesy of scandalous politician South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Golf icon Tiger Woods and R&B singer Chris Brown. We’ve also witnessed a miracle or two resulting in the anointing of Captain Sully Sullenberger as hero, and unlikely chart topper Susan Boyle to pop music darling. Not to mention the comeback of dormant diva Whitney Houston, who awoke from a drug hazed existence to see if her pop princess crown still fit.
2009 was filled with unpredictable sadness and joy, strength and longing, determination and fear and most of us survived it all. But isn’t that the way it goes. Tomorrow we a new year awaits us with new chances and new challenges. And though we cannot predict the future, we have so many lesson from this past year that no doubt will help us navigate 2010 a little better.