It seems to me that we are living in an increasingly topsy-turvy society. By that I mean that almost weekly if not daily some event is reported that is: “in the wrong order or a reversed condition; upside down; in a state of confusion or disorder from the usual status; in the wrong order.” (Taken from several sources) Furthermore, this “topsy-turveyness” (if there is such a word) appears to be popping up in several areas or venues. Here are a few examples.
Most everyone understands that we deposit money in a savings or similar account with a bank with the expectation that money will generate interest so the value of that account will increase. It’s true that for some years the return on these accounts has been less than we would like. Some accounts have been paying as little as .1% interest or .001% if my decimal /percentage conversion is correct. That means a $1000.00 account would earn $1.00 in a year in interest. One such savings account has recently raised its interest rate to about .008% resulting in interest on that thousand dollars to $8.00 a year. Not much, but a bit better than burying that cash in a tin can in the backyard or stuffing it under the mattress. Okay, so what?
Well recent reports indicate some banks are assessing “negative interest” for certain large depositors. That’s right, in the topsy-turvy world of high finance, instead of paying interest, certain banks are requiring depositors to pay the bank for keeping their money. Anybody remember that classic line from “The Beverly Hillbillies” sitcom where Jed Clampett proudly announced that his banker was so nice that he didn’t even charge Jed for keeping his multi-million dollar fortune in the bank? That was an ongoing gag back then, but it’s no joke today. Well, so far this upside down process hasn’t reached small depositors, but who knows what’s next.
Okay, moving on. Government investigators probe situations of possible wrongdoing to determine if transgressions of civil or criminal law have been committed by one or more individuals, right? These inquiries, which follow established procedures including safeguards of the rights of those being investigated, result in either charges being filed or the inquiry being terminated if the evidence doesn’t support further action. Pretty straightforward, right?
Well, recent reports indicate some investigators are being investigated themselves. Whoa, Nellie, as we old timers used to say. Yep that’s correct. According to several reports, the tried-and-true investigative processes are being turned topsy-turvy, upside down, in the wrong order, because those whose job is to pry into possible breaches of civil or criminal statutes by others are now being subjected to formal scrutiny to determine to what degree, if any, they may have committed infractions themselves. Talk about a “reversed condition.”
Okay, returning to the world of money and finance again. For as long as I can remember bonds have provided an alternative place to put our “extra” money. Government-issued multi-year savings bonds we ordinary folks are likely to buy provide a guaranteed return on our investment. Other bonds provide a tax exempt income while yet others are considered “junk” bonds because they are risky investments – but they pay a relatively high yield.
However, what about bonds being issued that are designed to pay zero interest and, upon redemption, will return less than than the investor paid – but that’s what’s going on in some bond markets. Yep, another topsy-turvy, upside down financial twist. How about them apples. One final observation. In our judicial system jurors are empaneled to evaluate evidence, and based solely on that evidence, make a determination of which party in a civil or criminal case has the more compelling argument. That process has evolved over hundreds of years and is enshrined in our Constitution.
But what is currently happening is the outcome of a nationally important trial is being reviewed and the jurors themselves are being subjected to scrutiny – based on evidence that is being evaluated in much the same way jurors are supposed to make their determination and render their verdict. Oops! That’s backwards – upside down – topsy-turvy from the way the system is supposed to work.
Well, these are just a few instances in which our neatly ordered lives are being turned topsy-turvy, but then I guess that’s the way our culture adapts to new challenges – and what makes our society so dynamic. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor is a regular contributing columnist to the AIM Media Midwest group of newspapers.