Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Chicken Little Syndrome

Let me be blunt here. I hate articles like this one: 7.9 million jobs lost, maybe forever.

Please allow me tell you why.

Yes, we are in an Economic Crisis, yes, the unemployment rate is astronomical, and yes, I believe and have written that it will probably get worse before it gets better. That being said there are a number of important factors that the author of the article has not put into context.

1. Prices are going down. Have you noticed all the good deals that are available in the department and grocery stores? Even gas prices are down from what they were four years ago. This is the economy responding to the supply and demand principles, as it should.
2. People are saving more money. The national savings rate is up as people are more aware of the need to keep a reserve.
3. Investment opportunities abound. The same houses with the huge mortgage payments and adjustable interest rates that people have had to walk away from are now available for a third or half of the price. And, many of the same people who lost these homes are able to find them at a better price with better terms. Banks are finally more receptive to loan modifications though this has been a long time coming and still they are being chintzy with the funds that the American population has given them to finance the programs.
4. Entrepreneurial spirit is again rising in the country as people are looking for new options and are aware that counting on big business to provide them with a life long gravy train is not going to happen.
5. We are learning not to put all of our eggs in one basket.
6. We are now becoming more aware that the bigger the business the greater chance they have of leading us down a path to feed their own greed and disrupting our economy.
7. We have learned that investing in the stock market can be risky whether you call it retirement savings, mutual funds, or a diversified portfolio.
8. The extended family and neighbor helping neighbor is replacing the me first and only me way of living.
9. We have learned that government cannot solve all of our problems. They can only put policies and programs in place that will assist us in solving our own problems. We are responsible to make the best of it.
10. Frugal living is making a big comeback and sites like Money Funk, Finance by the Book, Early Retirement Extreme, Christian PF, and, of course, In The Trenches are showing people that they can not only survive but thrive in fulfilling and balancing lifestyles that put quality of life above non-stop spending.

Second, the author of “7.9 million jobs lost, maybe forever” mentions the hardship of the Great Depression but fails to mention all the good that came out of the depression.
1. Today we still use the freeways, dams, and parks that were built during those public works programs. Whether a person counts them as socialism or doesn’t even think about them at all most of us have directly benefited from these projects.
2. Same with Social Security. It is now at the stage where the program needs to be revamped and new programs need to be tried and put in place but how many of us, or our family members, have benefited from Social Security either directly or indirectly?
3. The Great Depression created one of the greatest generations of knowledge, information, and prosperity that had ever existed before it. A combination of innovation, invention, and thoughtful conservative growth was practiced and enjoyed by all.

Back to the article. The author has stated statistical facts without providing any of the above-mentioned information. He concludes that the lost jobs may never come back. Is our growing population ever going to build more houses? Of course it will. Do we need to replace the old technologies with the new such as solar and wind energy? Of course we do. We should have been working on it for the last thirty years. Will this lead to future and bigger recessions? There may be some two steps forward one step back advances to our recovery as we continue to work our way through the process.

In my opinion the Chicken Little reporting is only good for one thing. Calling us to greater and more innovative action. Personally I ended up in a situation where my own personal finances collapsed and our family lived with no running water, no heating system, and no vehicles. And guess what? We made it. We are fine. We came out of it better than when we went in. We have not learned all there is to know but I can tell you this: Chicken Little does not help the situation while the rest of us are trying to get something done.

I believe that I have have featured this authors articles in the past but on this one I think he really dropped the ball. Who am I to say? He makes big bucks and I make nothing. All the more reason I have to ask, Who is paying him to scare and discourage the American people? Yes, we have challenges AND we will make it. We are In The Trenches and we will succeed. I do not think this is over and think that we could even see rioting before it is due to the desperation that some people feel but do not know how to deal with. More upsetting to me than Chicken Little is any politician who would use this as an opportunity to get votes or a business who would take advantage of us. It is time for us to remember who we are and move forward. There are two things I hope the reader will get out of this post. 1) At times I can jump on my soapbox. I may look like a mild mannered grandma to some but there are some things that get me stirred up. I have decided to make a category called Soapbox so you can either embrace or ignore these posts depending on your preference. And, 2) Please be aware of your emotional reaction when you read something. Does it bring you encouragement and new ideas, or does it make you feel discouraged and overwhelmed? If it falls in the second category and provides no remedy for improvement be careful and ask why did the author write this? Who is paying him to write it? And, what do they hope to achieve? The news is filled with undisguised bias and political posturing; I always try to watch multiple networks to get a better picture. It’s not the blatant ones that we need to watch for so much as the subtle ones that can shape our thinking without our awareness of it.

Every writer seeks to elicit a response from their readers whether that response is stated directly or whether they lead you to a place of coming to the conclusion yourself based on the facts they present and the emotions they evoke. The unstated objectives are more difficult to pinpoint and easier for the author to deny. In the situation of listing disparaging statistics without drawing any conclusions I have to believe that the author is saying one of a few things, your emotions during the reading will help you discern what they are. In the case of this story some possible conclusions come mind: 1) You should be alarmed. 2) The situation is very bad. 3) If you don’t have a job now don’t expect that you will find one. 4) Vote for another someone else. Of course, if confronted with this they could say, “No, I never intended that”, or “Those are your own conclusions, not mine, I’m just giving you the facts”. In both cases it’s like a doctor telling a patient they have cancer but giving no possible remedies for treatment and just letting you figure it out for yourself. This is an accurate approach but not necessarily responsible and in the worst case scenario can be downright manipulative.

Be wary of Chicken Little.

Have a great weekend and remember that our freedom and independence comes at great price.

(If any would view my statements as supporting one or the other of the political parties let me clarify that my voting is referred to as an Independent. :)


Olivia said...

Thanks for your helpful take on things. Difficulty breeds innovation. Your example of what you lived without and survived gives much needed perspective in our "I gotta have ______ or I'll die" society.

Carol said...

Thank you. We all have so much more talent and innovation than we will ever be able to maximize. Fear and discouragement can keep us from acheiving our goals and can influence us without even realizing it. Like Roosevelt said "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"

Anonymous said...

I love the way you take a positive stance on what many deem horrible. You challenge me and (I am sure) many of your readers to make something good come from their own circumstances, no matter how bad they may seem. Your own personal story is certainly an encouragement. Thanks!

Carol said...

One of my earlier inspirational persons was Corrie ten Boom who spent years in a German Concentration camp. Our stuggles seem so small compared to the horrifing conditions others have endured. Even visit a VA hospital and I am always humbled by the sacrifices many have made on our behalf. It causes me to realize that much of what I consider hardship is actually more of an inconvenience. One of the good money sayings is "Easy come, easy go." What we lose in this area we can regain and with the experience we can gain wisdom which is much harder to come by. Thanks for writing. I believe we are on the verge of tremendous opportunity as people learn better ways of handling their finances and as we close the doors to letting the foxes in the hen house.