Friday, May 4, 2012

It's the Economy

By now we all realize that the national economy has tanked.

There are any number of theories as to the cause. The Wall Street debacle and the investment house fall out. The costly and protracted wars in the Middle East. The housing market bubble that finally burst.

As we watched our pension plans and retirement accounts plummet, one thing was for certain. Many -- if not all -- of us are in this mess together. The past five years or so have been eye-opening, especially for those of us entering into retirement. This experience has not been something I would want to repeat.

People of all ages are struggling right now. Hunger has become more than a word. Families have lost their homes and their incomes. But it is important that we struggle to hang in there. President Roosevelt famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Those words seem just as relevant now as during the 1940s. Whether conditions are about to swing upward or whether that will take a little longer, we can't despair.

Forecasts daily indicate that the jobless rate will raise or lower, that interests rates will increase or decrease or there will/will not be a double-dip recession. Who really knows?

Seemingly self-important experts are paid to give their opinions on television while they hype their latest book. It would appear that these experts have an agenda, a reason to make news and see their names in print. Unfortunately, they have no real idea of what is going to be. They are merely reading tea leaves and then trying to blind us with their wisdom.

This economy glitch is world-wide and reaches countries from Greece and Ireland to the U.S. and beyond. In this global economy, many countries are linked together through importing/exporting. If one of the group develops a cold, everyone sneezes. It's a big problem and will take big answers to resolve. Everyone of us has a stake in the outcome. We all just want to enjoy life and not have to worry about every expense.

When I was changing careers many years ago, I was in a financial pinch (which is much smaller than a glitch) and watched every penny. It was hard and not too much fun. But it taught me to be wary of things like long-term expenses that might eventually seem prohibitive. I learned to buy a more conservative vehicle, one without all the bells and whistles. I learned to have a hamburger without the cheese (and saved 25 cents in the process). I learned to simplify, to shop less and take a sack lunch. These were hard lessons in a strong economy when many of my friends had morphed into shopaholics. But it didn't hurt me to keep the big picture in mind and trim back when I could. In times like these, such lessons can come in handy.

During my financial difficulties, it appeared to me that everyone else had money to spend on frivolous things. I know that wasn't true -- it just seemed that way. Circumstances changed and my pay increased. All was not lost.

Currently, millions of people are seriously concerned. Many people would be thrilled to have a hamburger, let alone one with cheese. People are going hungry and doing without vital items like prescription medication. For those in dire situations, there is help available. Ask a friend, a clergyman, or browse the phone book for agencies who can point you in the right direction. Unlike the Depression of the 1930s, this time there are social support groups to provide assistance and guidance.

Let's not despair. Things will get better. And we all hope it's sooner rather than later.

No comments:

Post a Comment