Saturday, October 11, 2008

Positive Things About The Economic Crisis

My family, like this one - and like yours, I imagine - has been totally stressed out these passed few weeks worrying about this economic crisis.

But it occurred to me yesterday there are some positive things about this crisis. And I don't just mean snarky witticisms about jobs in the Depression. So here are some things to keep in mind that may, just may, cheer you up.

1. Would it be such a bad thing if this country didn't have quite so much money sloshing around and wasn't so obsessed with a quick buck? If we went back to a 1982 standard of living? Maybe we would all learn to make due with simpler things: a picnic in the park rather than a new big screen TV, Matchbox cars for kids rather than the latest electronic gadget, a game of baseball or hide and seek rather than expensive day camps, a drive to a motor lodge rather than a flight to Paris. Maybe having these simpler pleasures back in our lives might actually be a blessing.

2. Those who make bold moves in a time of crisis may make the most of it. Maybe now is the time to buy that suddenly affordable retirement lot, start that business, write that novel. Use a time of turbulence and change to take chances on ideas that seize the day.

3. Every economic change brings new economic opportunities. Some people may actually end up making more money than they have been. If you own a small business or work for yourself: how can you market to the new environment? What new services can you offer? If you work for a company: how can you make yourself unexpendable? How can you help your company thrive?

4. Some people will be in industries directly hit by this recession: finance, housing, retail, and find their incomes slashed no matter how hard they work. Some people will find themselves laid off and unable to find work. I went through that after the dot-com bust. A friend told me: just show up every day, from nine to five, at your desk, and work on it every day, and then go home and forget it. And eventually you will get through. And it worked. So my advice is: use this as a time to decide what you really want to...and need with your life. Then work at it with concentration every day, and go home and forget about it every night. And this too, shall pass.

5. This crisis will be bad - maybe we'll see 8% unemployment next year, maybe as much as 10% - but it won't be a Great Depression with 25% unemployment. There are too many protections already in place: and the government is FINALLY doing something that will actually help, unlike the Depression. Something will also need to be done to help mortgage holders (though I want to know: why should people with underwater mortgages be the only ones to get relief? Haven't we ALL lost money, whether our mortgages were high or not?) And there will have to be new stimulus to the economy, cutting back of spending programs and increases in taxes. But once all that works through the system, we could restart our economic engine within a couple of years. I think enough is being done that we aren't talking, anymore, about losing a decade.

6. The next couple of years may be harder financially. But this is a time to remember what we have. We are still the richest nation in the world. Most of us will still have wonderful places to live, lively communities, loving families, amazing technology that lets us communicate and create like no generation before. And this country has two hundred fifty million amazing, talented, educated people who know how to create, discover, build, entertain, heal, educate, and minister to the world. Even if all of us have a little less wealth, nothing about who we are as a people is going away. Let's enjoy what we have and being alive. In every crisis, there is an opportunity to discover who we are and what we value. Let's use this time to find the value in our lives.

And let's not forget. Without this crisis, this might not have happened.

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