Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Get What You Deserve

I think that this economy is teaching some people that they have been living a lie. We live in a society that tells us to think of ourselves first. Don't you deserve that new car? Don't you deserve a nice long vacation?

Why do we feel this way? Those who grew up in the Great Depression understood that real value was based in hard work and perseverance. I have to say, even as I write this article, that I struggle with perseverance. I've been raised in the "me" generation. Someone got paid a bonus and I didn't, what about me? Someone gets more vacation time than I do, what about me?

Maybe this economic lesson is designed to teach us those values that have been lost for so many generations. I read an article that said how naiive current college graduates were. They were so shocked by "only" having 2 weeks of vacation. I'm a college graduate, and I am only supposed to have 1 week of vacation. Yeah, it sucks a lot. But I have a job, my husband has a job, we are steadily paying off our student loan debt.

Maybe, when this all blows over, I will have finally learned the lesson. If I really got what I "deserved" I think I would be even more disappointed than I am now. I haven't done anything to "earn" more pay or vacation yet. I'll just have to work hard and persevere, and see what blessings are given to me. Blessings that I don't deserve.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Foreclosure

I am of the opinion that we should let houses go into foreclosure. The banks made some bad decisions, the people purchasing the houses cannot afford them. We need to let the market system work.

Am I being harsh on those people who will be without homes? Maybe so. I think our society needs to change, though. We don't need 6,000 square feet of home for every two person family out there. There are so many people who could easily open up their homes to displaced families. The average home has pretty much doubled in size since earlier this century. Do we really think that a starter home needs to be at least 2,000 square feet? Maybe this is what brought the whole crisis on to begin with.

I drive through older neighborhoods many times. These homes are now on the "poor" side of our town. They are four bedroom, 2 and 3 story mansions with gorgeous architecture. They have been abandoned or turned into apartments for several families. Do we naively think that the same thing won't someday happen to our brand new "McMansions"?

If we overbuild for an area, eventually the prices will come down. It's actually a good thing. In areas of Louisville, this has created beautiful apartments and homes that are affordable, even for those who don't have jobs.

Let's go back to a simpler time. A time when strangers opened their homes to each other. A time when we were satisfied with what we had in life. A time when our jobs were more than just a paycheck, but a way to provide for our families and for our country.

Let's create a blessed union again with each other and with our country.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Circle of Economies

We all know that there are cycles and circles when it comes to economics. There are good times and bad times and everything in between.

Right now, we are obviously in one of the bad times. This particular economic downturn has been made somewhat worse by ineptitudes of government. And out plan is for the government to bail us out?

While the $700+ billion dollar plan might only stimulate about $200 million dollars worth of economy, we do need something to jump start the economy.

Theoretically, if every company started hiring people again, our economy would work itself out pretty quickly.

Unfortunately, even companies that are not losing money are so fearful of a potential loss, that they are trimming budgets. When they cut jobs, those newly unemployed people start cutting back, and then the companies they aren't buying from cut even more jobs.

We need to all work as hard as we can to be productive members of society. We need to find some way to earn money, even if unemployed. We also need to spend wisely. If you are comfortable financially, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the sales, buy a new car, new furniture, go out to eat and stay in a fancy hotel. Don't hole yourself up in your home and hoard your money, help stimulate the economy!

I just got back from a trip to Reno, Nevada. We had a ton of fun skiing, gambling, and sightseeing. It was not terribly expensive, and hopefully I helped to stimulate the struggling economy in that part of our country.

Let's work together to stop the fear and start the recovery. With or without the economic "stimulus" plan.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Food Stamps or Middle Class

I came to a stunning realization the other day. I was reading an article on cnn.com about the example of two people on food stamps and the "worry" and apparent crisis of whether they would have enough food to make it through the month.

My realization: my husband and I spend less than one person gets on food stamps.

I was shocked and amazed. How is it possible that a single 50-something year old man can complain in front of a nation that he "only" gets about $250 a month on food stamps when my husband and I spend about $200-$225?

That budget isn't just for rice and beans. We eat cheaply, but we still have choices. We include alcohol and paper goods in that budget. We buy frozen chicken cutlets and bulk hamburger meat. We eat a lot of generic brands, but we can also buy fruits and vegetables if we choose to.

The family of four (nearly $500 a month) was "unable" to buy fruits and vegetables and the mother "went without" so her kids could eat what they wanted. I'm so sorry, but I wasn't able to afford Lunchables or other brand names as a kid, and I choose to purchase other things now as well. Since when did food become such a status symbol that kids can't just eat a sandwich and carrot sticks?

I also keep reminding myself that a bag of salad mix typically costs the same as a bag of chips - it just probably won't be finished in most households as quickly. So do you think people on food stamps "can't" buy fruits and vegetables or that they choose not to?

Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against food stamps. I worked in a low-income school and my students would work hard for the chance for pretzel sticks that I stocked for them. I'm just not buying the fact that $500 a month is not enough for a family to buy the basics. Food stamps aren't for luxury goods, they are there to buy the things that I buy every week for my husband and myself. Let's consider it a test for a middle class food budget.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Perfectionist

Sometimes I have some perfectionist tendencies. I learned from my father at an early age that if you don't think you can do something correctly you should make a big fuss and delay starting the project as long as possible.

I have always wanted to write a novel. I have a million and one ideas in my head, and I don't have any problem starting to write my ideas. The problem comes when I reach a certain point (anywhere from 5 pages to 35 pages into the piece) where I suddenly feel like everything I have written is horrible. In all honesty, it probably is. But that doesn't mean that it's not salvageable.

What is it about perfectionists that we can't keep working once we find out the tiniest of problems. I read novels everyday that I pick up in the library that are simply atrocious. Horrible grammer, faulty plot lines, confusing characters. And they not only completed their work, they actually managed to get it published!

I'm not saying we should all give in to mediocrity. I think we should do the best work that we are capable of. However, we all need to complete something. We need to finish it. We need to take an entire step and not hover in place.

It's not the end result of the race that matters; it's the fact that we are running the race.