Monday, February 9, 2009

The Sky is Falling

I am not an economist nor do I claim that any of the statements I am about to make are factually based. In fact, they are based upon a fable.

Upon first hearing all of the negative talk about our economy, I brushed it off and thought, "Oh pish posh! It's just the media being the media. Things aren't as bad as they say." This may have been true for a time but it's increasingly more difficult to feel that all is well in Who-ville.

Being true to my personality, I have yet to be convinced of the severity of our economic crisis. Or rather, convinced of the causes and pseudo-solutions of the economic crisis. I cannot deny that there is something wrong. But what I need is for someone to sit me down with a flow chart, graph, abacus, powerpoint presentation or maybe even felt board illustrations of EXACTLY why the economy is the way that it is. After that, then maybe I'll stop being stubborn and putting the blame on us, the American people. We have control over the economy. Therefore we can also be at fault for the economy.

The word "economy" is beginning to be spoken in hushed tones, with nodding heads of silent affirmation and sighs as people long for happier times. "Oh, it's the economy." If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that just in 2009, I think I could save the country myself from utter ruin. I overhear it at work, in line at the grocery store, at the gym. "Curses! I burned the bread again!" "That's okay, honey. It's just the economy." [insert sigh]

My initial opinion on, what is not necessarily the cause of Crisis '09 but, instead adding fuel to the fire, is a case of Chicken Little syndrome. The more we keep telling everyone the sky is falling, the more we, along with everyone else around us, are going to believe it. The problem is not that the sky isn't falling but that very little is accomplished to fix the falling sky when we all we do is panic. Just think if Noah had decided that instead of building the arc, he spend all his time harping on everyone that a flood really was coming (It really did. He was right, for those out there that aren't familiar with the story). There is a time for warning and there is a time for preparing. Do we hunker down clutching our money bags as the flood waters rise or do we suck it up and start building an arc?

Regardless of the realities of Crisis '09, it should still be possible to find some positive options instead of dwelling in doom and gloom regarding all things economy. Ok, so the economy sucks right now. Jobs suck. Real estate sucks. Go dry your eyes with a worthless one dollar bill and figure out a plan. There are people that have chosen to cut back on excess expenses here and there, i.e., smaller cable packages, water usage (in their homes), car pooling with coworkers, not going out to eat as much, selling an extra car, etc. Cutting back is not a bad thing.

Maybe, just maybe, this economic crisis could cause (in a world of best case scenarios) a re-wiring of the American people. We have bread an extremely materialized society. We have ingrained in ourselves that a high standard of living is to be continually sought after and the way to acquire that is a cushy lifestyle with the best money can buy.

The encouragement to live within our means is ever present. If you are successful in your career and get to the point where buying 10 cars is within your means, that's great, but if you don't NEED 10 cars, why have 10 cars? I doubt the counsel to "live within your means" really means: "Live a practical lifestyle but only if you don't make very much money. If you make a lot of money, then by all means, sleep in 14k gold sheets. You deserve it, big guy [wink and finger-air-gun]."

My hope is that this crisis will ultimately aid in bringing Americans' perspective back to what is most important in their lives instead of thinking every plunk in the head is another piece of collapsing atmosphere. Me and my rose colored glasses would like to see people take their focus off of their money and realize that though their portfolio may take hit, have pay cuts instead of pay raises, or no job altogether, they still have a family that they love, talents, health, faith, hobbies, intelligence, freedoms, passions, loving friends. We live in a great nation that has proved resilient through even tougher times than now.

So how does the story of Chicken Little end? If we are like the fable, it could have various outcomes to include:

Eventually Foxy Loxy is going to come along. Mr. Loxy will feed the hysteria, offer us our solutions, and lead the populace to our goal. We will all love Mr. Loxy because he's what we need. We will trust Foxy Loxy. He is what will save us from the imminent doom that we are convinced will ruin our lives. All the while, we have no idea that Mr. Loxy's agenda is to consume the followers for his own personal gain/dinner.

Or Cocky Locky could intervene. Mr. Locky has spotted the panic for what it is: panic. He has also spotted Mr. Loxy, the predator that will capitalize off of the hysteria. He knows that Foxy Loxy will only turn his followers into his dinner. Luckily, Cocky Locky finds out in time to warn Chicken Little and the rest of their friends. And they (those still living) all lived happily ever after....


  1. Aaaaaamen!

    Yes. The economy is bad. Jobs have been lost (including my dad and two uncles) and many more jobs will be lost before the trend reverses. However, my dad is enjoying life. He hasn't had this much 'free time' in a long while. He's working around the house, spending time with my mom, catching up on some reading, all while looking for work. It's hard, but no one said life was going to be easy.

  2. Interesting post to read today because I was just thinking about this exact thing. The University is planning for major cuts and as our fiscal services people went over the money issue at a staff meeting today all I could think was "how did we get to the point that we rely on money that isn't a given (a one time source of money has now become an expected and planned for amount of funding)to the point that now in the face of cuts we have to take huge it?" If from the beginning, budgets were planned and utilized to spend what money was in fact available, we wouldn't even be in this problem. Now apply this principle to the entire country/world.

    That probably didn't make any sense. Let's just say I was getting irritated at our staff meeting.

  3. Impressive comparison. I loved the use of Chicken Little. People just need to chill and quit hyperventilating...we're in a bad economy but heck it isn't anywhere near what it was in the 80's so shouldn't we just be thankful for that?
    And I totally understand what Christa is trying to say. It's like if you're used to making a certain amount of money and you get a raise you shouldn't then raise your spending, it should stay the same and then you have a cushion in times of crisis. So should be all of these places that are having panic attacks over budget cuts.


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