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Recession has its bright spot

Thursday, 05 February 2009

Last night I took the kids to Target to buy them new jeans and t-shirts.  As we approached the fitting room desk, the attendant pushed aside the pad and pencil she'd been using.  "Sorry," she said, "I was just sketching out floor plans."

"Oh? Are you working on your dream house?" I asked.

"No, I'm an architect and always sketching ideas."

We got to talking about home building, the market and jobs.  Her professional day job hours were cut due to the recession and she is supplementing her income with the job at Target.  Turns out there are engineers, doctors and accountants working at Target, as well.  

We were served by an accountant at "Steak and Shake" the other night.  The guy who hands you your venti latte might be a software engineer.

Which brings me to my bright spot:  the depth of the recession is inversely related to the quality level of customer service at the drive-thru.


Stimulate Me

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Now, I'm no economist, but based on the condition of our economy - our global economy - I think my solution has as much merit as any tried so far, and make no apologies for my lack of "expertise."

Maybe we do need a government bailout.  But it's the taxpayers who should be bailed out, not just corporations and special interest groups.  You want to stimulate the economy?  Let's call for a "do over" and give the money BACK to the people.

Here's my Four Point Do-Over Plan:

  1.  Since there seems to be no way around a bailout, I suggest the government pay off all individual credit card debt.  You owe $70,000 in credit?  No problem - it's gone.  You don't have credit cards?  Sorry, this is for the greater good. 
  2. Abolish credit cards.  From now on, we pay as we go.
  3. Eliminate the income tax.  How's that for stimulus?
  4. Establish the Fair Tax visit  FairTax.Org  for more information.

Will it be rough going at first?  Yes!  We're not used to paying as we go.  That means no more 2 years-same-as-cash purchases.  You save the money for that furniture before you buy it.  Will it be tough on retailers?  You bet!  Consumers will have to be more pragmatic about their purchases and that means we'll be spending less on useless junk. 

Will it save our economy?  In the short term it will not seem so.  Our world is running on credit.  Running on the promise of future productivity.  Many businesses may close.  Many people will be faced with choosing new career paths.  We may even see a great depression.  I don't think so, actually, but I don't know.  Do you?  .

How will this stimulate the economy?  Think of what we're paying in debt service; bank fees and finance charges.  All that money is tucked neatly under the blanket of minimum monthly payments to which we've resigned our future.  How much of that junk you bought will outlast your debt?  How much of that junk would you own now if you had had to pay cash then?  Tell me, what would you rather have now, the cash or the crap?

I'm not calling for the abolition of loans.  Stuff happens and it's nice to know you can borrow a little in an emergency.  I'm calling for an end to the kind of easy credit that lulls us into a false standard of living.

What will we gain?  A return to a strong work ethic.  Pride of accomplishment; of working hard and being self-sufficient.  Saving and investing wisely.  Simple living and doing more with less.  We will be stronger, smarter and crime will fall because everyone will learn to pull his own weight.  A balanced household budget. 

We don't need government to take care of us; we do need to re-learn how to take care of ourselves.


Open mouth, insert foot

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

I'm standing with a fresh, steamy cup of coffee, chatting with a new acquaintance.  "Can I get you some coffee?"

"No," she says, I don't drink caffiene.

"No coffee?  It's the nectar of God!  How do you get through the morning without coffee?"

"I'm Mormon," she smiles.

The good news is that I shut up before asking when she's due.  I'm not that dumb.

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