..and when the sun rises again tomorrow, we'll see how far we've come ...

..and when the sun rises again tomorrow, we'll see how far we've come ...

... just to remind myself why I'm doing this ...

Depending on our personalities, the world can be a crowded place or a very lonely one. For those who seek comfort in numbers, there is no shortage of hangers on, but for those who avoid that circus, keeping thier own counsel can leave them feeling quite alone and disengaged from the mad place we call home. Life is a trade off and most of us choose how we live it.

For me, I'd rather work things out as best I can, using my own thoughts and feelings to sort things out. Following the crowd has never been a temptation to me, but that has its price, one that I'm totally comfortable with every day I get to stand up and be the person I aspire to be. When I sometimes lose track of who that is, I come here to remember, to reconnect and to resume my quest.

These posts are a reflection of some of what matters to me and it's a privilege to have the opportunity to collect these thoughts as they form in my head, as they prepare the way for my life, as it evolves from one day to the next. They re-inspire me when things seem to be floating about, with no particular aim or purpose, and it does happen from time to time.

So, today I had these thoughts that I think are worth writing down for the future me to look back on when I need to ...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

why all the fuss?

Every day, almost every hour, we hear a plethora of words like failing, shrinking, free-fall, melt-down, contracting and devastated in some sort of connection with the state of our, and the rest of the world's economies. But do we really have any clear idea of what that means? I know I don't.

To me, the economy is a system of trade for goods, services, hard currency or credits and favours between everyone who is a part of any assemblage that may include only individuals, or businesses, or political entities, or geographically related "somethings", or any combination of these. It's about exchanges of value at every level, from countries exchanging weapons for currency or other tangibles, workers trading their time for pay, business trading goods or services for money, right down to kids trading sports cards or even treats in their lunches.

So what's happening here? Some of this "trading" has slowed down, and some of it may have stopped altogether, but most of it is happening just as it has been forever, everywhere. We're still eating, and washing, shopping and going out, buying lottery tickets and driving around for most of the same reasons we always have. With the exception of those whose usual method of earning an income has been temporarily, or otherwise, disrupted, the vast majority continues to live their lives at the same nefarious pace. While employment figures are presented with alarmist overtones, they do not present a situation that is all that different from other times. Predictably, business surges and wanes at different times but these fluctuations are not new. They seem more pronounced as they happen in the context of other issues and crisis that fill the gloom and doom headlines, but that is par for the course. While the numbers seem staggering, they’re within a level of tolerance that is not critical.

Declarations of tough times and severe cutbacks being made by everyday folks, but without any explanation or reason for doing so, suggests a "blind leading the blind" scenario in full bloom. With all this theoretical "contraction" and “cutting back” on our usual activities being pointed to as one of the main contributors to the economy's "devastation", prices appear to be largely unaffected, nor are they showing a downward trend. Why is that? You'd think that prices would have to be reduced to keep the "trading" activity at substantive levels. The prevailing trend of price maintenance is one indicator that not all is as dire as purported.

Notice that there are regular references like "not seen since the late nineties" or "the lowest since 1997" and so on. It's clear that there was a deeper downturn about a decade or so ago, and again some years before that, and before that, but their effects were erased soon after because there has been a market bubble greater than many others, which has followed each time. Of course that was the groundwork for the next, and next, and next, and so on, downturn because the world quickly forgets the lessons it is forced to acknowledge during these downturns and simply resumes its self-immolating, self-destructive behaviour that is driven by blind uber-optimism and lust for excess, the grist for the next disaster that is always sure to follow.

"Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money was not scarce? - Ralph Waldo Emerson's words remind us that, while there are individual exceptions as there always are, on the whole this situation is really not that much different for the large majority of the populace. Paul Harvey put it another way "In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these." And he's absolutely right - this is not new or unfamiliar to anyone with a memory.

So, the next time someone says to you in a conversation "the times are tough" or "because of the poor economy" or something along those meaningless lines, and provided they're not one of the 'real but temporary victims' of this version of economic re-stabilization due to a job loss, ask them to explain how it's affecting their situation. More often than not, you'll discover that they're really only regurgitating the "bad news hype" with little substance or awareness behind it. Unreasonable expectations in lifestyles, market activities and government-based welfare schemes are largely to blame for the "times" we’re experiencing today.

If enough of us come to understand the true nature of this, and so many other "economic collapses", we'll come to realize that most of it is "blow-by" and apart from some always prudent personal resource management, there is little reason to pull up stakes and run for cover. We should all take some guidance from this endlessly recurring situation and conduct ourselves in a responsible manner under all kinds of circumstances, and not just when we fear that the roof is falling in because someone says it is. Simply put - the answer to these calamities is to live (reasonably), learn (from our experiences) and prosper. Spok almost got it right.

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