Christmas time is here, my favorite time of year and time again for my family to watch our favorite Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" featuring Jimmy Stewart. This modern movie in 1946, a version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol", features good old George Bailey. George is a pillar of a man who affects those around him without even knowing it until one fateful day.
George's father has passed away and George is forced to stay home and assume the reins of his father's savings and loan in Bedford Falls. George is unhappy that he has been forced to sacrifice his future dreams of "shaking this crummy town, seeing the world and attending college to see what they know". George was needed by his family at home then George sees Mary, who believes George can do anything even "lasso the moon for" her. Together they fall in love, marry and honeymoon in a dilapidated house they soon make their home. Mary doesn't care, she loves George, and they settle into that ram-shackle house and make it a home where their family grows.
Then one day Uncle Billy misplaces the savings and loans deposit bag of $8,000, a huge amount 70 some years ago. The local big bankster, Mr. Potter, catches wind of this and threatens George, "As a stockholder of this Building and Loan, I'm going to swear out a warrant for your arrest. Misappropriation of funds, manipulation, malfeasance with the state bank examiner..." Potter swears. Seeing the desperation of his situation George tries to drink away his problems, only to come to the decision that he is better off dead and attempts to end it all by jumping into the river. Now enters Clarence, a second class angel sent back to earth to earn his wings. Clarence fishes George out of the drink and drys him off much to George's dismay. His job is to show George his purpose in life. "You've been given a great gift, George, a chance to see what the world would be like without you", Clarence says.
The clock rolls back and together the two of them walk the streets of George's town though now it doesn't resemble Bedford Falls in the least. The towns flashing neon signs now frame a town alien to George named "Potterville" after the evil, heartless Mr. Potter. This rundown town is now full of dilapidated housing, strip clubs, pawn shops and unhappy citizenry. The townsfolk are sad and miserable barely getting by or providing for their families living in squalid rentals, unable to buy a decent home that the old savings and loan had afforded them if George had lived. George desperately tries to find his loving wife Mary, only to learn from Clarence that his loving wife is now an old maid with no children or family. Down the streets they wander running into George's aged and angry Ma Bailey, who because George never lived, opened up a boarding house to make ends meet. Next George stumbles into a cemetery only to discover his brothers tombstone and discovers that Harry had died at nine years of age because George wasn't there to save him when he fell through the ice that day years ago on the frozen pond. George exclaims, "That's a lie! Harry Bailey went to war! He got the Congressional Medal of Honor! He saved the lives of every man on that transport during the war!" "No George, every man on that transport died. Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry,"Clarence reports.
One year ago, I was George Bailey, left to wonder what my future could possibly hold. Our businesses' were sinking already with the economy and the new corporate business was about to open. One day, before Christmas, in they walked to introduce themselves dressed in expensive suits, Italian leather shoes and Rolex watches. Their introduction joke was, "You know that Wall Street ruined main street?" I said yes, we had seen that here in our valley as the local economy had nose dived. Dozens of big corporations had swooped in to buy up the big local mom and pop businesses that had been struggling to stay afloat or they simply closed their doors. These big corporations knew the situation "Wall Street" had caused and were literally offering pennies on the dollar for businesses. They knew there no longer was much business to keep them busy and they were slowly being forced out of business. It was sell and sell fast or just close down, so they sold out. Then the well healed businessman stated, "Well, we are here to pick the bones clean." "We own lots of washes and don't need to make a profit for ten years (obvious deep pockets)." "We don't bother trying to buy out struggling businesses we just open up and know that we will own the market and close down 3 to 5 competitors, any who have mortgages!" he said.
Fast forward one year! We are still in business, barely, but my husband and I are healthy and our two beautiful children are enrolled in college working hard to get great grades. They are self sufficient, happy, independent and doing well. We regularly receive accolades about each of them from old teachers, administrators, employers and friends. I fear that they are always going to have a hard life but know they are on the right track and they say they learned how to work hard from us. Is life any easier? No, but in a year I've discovered that each day is a blessing and our purpose is to be happy and help others happy as best we can.
I remember what Clarence said, "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" Everyone of our family and friends had been praying for us. I learned once again that the sun does come out after the storm, there is a silver lining in the clouds and that there always is a plan for us when we have faith.
For our countries sake I pray that people come to realize, soon, that many corporations are destroying our country as they ship jobs overseas, receive tax breaks while stripping away our resources. I fear that soon everyone will have to work for the big corporations at their wages, pay their prices and receive with no medical benefits. Americans will be unable to make a living or buy a home. I fear that our country will continue to erode as the big cities did decades ago. I see nothing but closed businesses, pawn shops and dilapidated buildings and run down homes. People continue to do what is best for their own wallets. They shop at the big boxes where every dime of income leaves the town except for the meager wages they pay. People hire illegal immigrants that only work for cash to wash their windows and cars while the illegals send an estimated $60 billion dollars to Mexico a year. We are expected to pay exorbitant property taxes to pay for schools, roads, police protection, fire protection and any other largesse our city, state and county see fit. Our businesses get inspected by water services,state services and fire services continually. Federal and state agencies require that we report every hour we pay to our employee and pay all taxes every month while the illegals dump their wash water illegally into the storm sewer, dump the dirt from their vacuums on the ground at the local realty firm and newspaper parking lot after cleaning your cars. The food vendors drive away from the corner after vending food all day releasing their oil from their fryer onto the streets as they drive away for us to enjoy driving on. Meanwhile they use the system, getting subsidized healthcare, housing, food and education.
The middle income earner is disappearing and we are left to wonder how much longer we can keep our own house in order. We have tried to build businesses and be a part of the system but everything appears to be stacked against us. We are left to wonder if we might be forced to the public trough as well to feed our families. We don't own a legal printing press to balance our budgets. Then I remember George and that he was a good man the type of person I must be and his words, "I want to live again,"
I Remember George's words to the evil Mr. Potter...
"Just a minute... just a minute. Now,hold on, Mr. Potter. You're right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I'll never know but neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was... why, in the 25 years since he and his brother, Uncle Billy, started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn't that right, Uncle Billy? He didn't save enough money to send Harry away to college, let alone me. He did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what's wrong with that? Why,... you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You... you said... what'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken down that they... Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man then you'll ever be!"