I'm finding this a difficult post to write. The words don't come easy and are not flowing in a well ordered pattern so I hope I will be able to make the point I am aiming for.
I am an American. My grandfather served in WWI, my uncle in Vietnam, my son in Iraq. I read lots of history and am astounded by the courage and determination that Americans have faced in all challenges. Grit and determination are within the fiber of our beings. When I go to a small town parade and the flag goes by tears fill my eyes. I have been through the 60's and the Beatles and did the twist at age 5, the 70's and Motown, the 80's and disco, the 90's, and now check out Lady Gaga's newest outfits. I have been rich and poor and lived in the city and a rural community of 500. I am an American.
Currently America is facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. My experience with the first depression has been through the eyes of my grandmother, my mother, wonderful friends, and photos and books. During the first depression my mother really did walk 5 miles in two feet of snow to get to school. I know because I have driven the road she walked. As a child she had scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and almost died multiple times. She once was playing in the barn and jumped from the top level into the hay and ran a pitch fork completely through her leg. There was no money for the doctor so the family treated it at home the best they could. She always had the scar. I was told that on one of her near death times my grandfather begged the medical people for care and since they did not have the money my grandfather became an indentured servant for a a time until the debt could be paid off. As an adult, mom became a nurse and served the sick and diseased for the rest of her life. It is was from her adversity that she gained the position of strength and caring that so many people remember.
Recent headlines show that things may be worse before they get better. As disappointing as this may be to some it should not come as a surprise. A financial downturn of this magnitude cannot be resolved overnight. In the first couple years it was all we could do to figure out what happened and how it happened let alone know where to go from there. And people are still arguing about that. The numbers are up. Unemployment is at 15 million, 40 million are receiving food stamps, and US poverty on track to post record gain in 2009 - Yahoo! News
Politicians continue to point fingers rather than find good workable solutions. Every idea and plan on the table gets watered down, opposed, and beat up. This will even be more evident as mid term elections are coming up so expect a lot more propaganda while politicians tailor the presentation of facts to fit their agenda. As my old mentor used to say "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure."
Myths about the Economy:
Myth 1. It's the worst it has ever been. Anyone who has lived through or studied the Great Depression knows that is not true. Here are a couple photos to remind us:
Myth 2. The government can solve this. All they can do is provide the defensive end position while we ourselves run for the goal. In April of this year I wrote a post titled - The American Economy - One person at a time. We are now almost 5 months past that. Personally, I have made dramatic economic changes in my own life knowing that this time was coming. Although other factors played a role in my decisions (as they often do for all of us), having a long range plan can assist us in moving us in the direction we need to go. For me this includes applying Minimum Basic Budget principles and living as cost effectively as possible.
Myth 3. I am entitled to...(unemployment, a loan, food, shelter, etc.). We are entitled to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Remember that's pursuit, not achievement. The rest we have to work for.
Myth 4. The Financial "Experts" didn't see this coming. Not. Instead of calling this the Great Depression we should call it The Great American Scam.
Myth 5. The Government has a magic money tree. The only money the government has is that which it takes from the American people. It's easy to talk about cutting benefits and minimizing the deficit unless it affects our own pocket and then people get angry. We can't have it both ways. If we want spending cut we need to expect that it will be a program that affects us directly, or our neighbor, or family member. When talking about reducing government spending what would you personally be willing to give up? If each of this can answer this question then maybe the politicians can find some good solutions and still keep their jobs.
Myth 6. As long as I am okay I don't have to be concerned. This is a national depression. We all are affected in one way or another. If you are fortunate enough to be doing okay then what can be done to assist others? Each person has to decide this for themselves. Almost anything is good except apathy.
We will get through this. I have no doubt. My biggest question is when we get past this will we be able to hold our heads high, know that we have dealt with integrity, and improved our lives and country in the process?
I am excited. Excited that there is a growing awareness of sound personal financial principles, excited that we are embracing frugal living and green principles. On my personal journey and difficulty with economic hardship I have learned and benefited so much. Riches come not only in the form of money but in the choices we make everyday. Yes, the cable may need to be turned off for a while but if the time is spent coloring with your children a victory has been achieved. If the time is spent moaning and groaning about how rough life is without T.V. then go visit a nursing home and hear their stories. We will be humbled beyond complaint.
I am confident that In The Trenches readers will choose the high road. Why else would you listen to me rattle? :)