Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday's Words for November 12, 2008

It’s really hard, having to deal with the downturn in the economy and a sudden change in fortune. So many people right now are living on the edge of despair. Experts on the television will tell you “don’t panic”. You look at them in their pricey suits with their four hundred dollar haircuts and think, “that’s easy for you to say”.

The ones best equipped to handle the financial nightmare are those who’ve had to deal with lean times in the past. Their bellies may clutch because they know exactly how bad things can get, but it generally doesn’t take them long to shift into “survival mode”.

The Ashburys are no strangers to struggle, neither are we exempt from the worry and uncertainty marking the latter half of 2008. We’re making adjustments, just as all of you are making adjustments. Let’s face it, for most of us there are a lot of things we can do without if we have to.

My beloved is on vacation this week, but instead of a trip to the tropics, we’re taking a trip to the book store. This is autumn, and there is yard work to do, and I’m sure I can find some incentives for Mr. Ashbury to apply himself there, as well. So it shouldn’t be a boring vacation with nothing to do.

We’ve looked ahead to Christmas, and I have no problem with the concept of spending less there, as well. To my way of thinking, we’ve allowed that special holiday to become way too commercialized at any rate. When I think back to my most treasured childhood Christmas memories, it’s not gifts that come to mind. In fact, I can only recall a few of the many presents I know I received. No, what fills my memories are the things we’d do together, as a family. We’d hunt for the tree together, decorate it together. We’d sing songs, and visit relatives, and bake cookies. It was low tech, but high involvement.

At this moment in time, people are dealing with more uncertainty than just the financial. I’ve tried very hard to stay apolitical in these essays. I want you to know that it’s not been easy for me. Those of you who read Wednesday’s Words on a regular basis know that I have often said I have an opinion on everything—and I mean it. However, I try very hard not to offend anyone (although once in a while I fail abysmally, and in essays that I had been certain beforehand were completely safe). So I will note here, that there is a general anticipation of something different happening come January 20th. Some people are excited and happy; others frightened and uncertain. Whichever way you view the upcoming inauguration of your forty-fourth President, such emotion also adds to the stress of these times.

What makes these times so difficult is the feeling that everything that is happening is totally out of our control; and for the most part, that’s true. But what’s also true is that you really shouldn’t panic. The study of economics demonstrates that there are boom times and bust times, and that it’s all cyclical. That doesn’t offer much comfort if you’re suddenly out of work, or if you’re being foreclosed on. The only thing that will really make things better is if they get better.

In the meantime, you need to remember you can’t make Wall Street “straighten up and fly right”, as we used to say. You can’t make venture capitalists and CEOs behave with responsibility. You can’t make the banks more solvent. You can only do the best you can to do.

And you can remember that these scary times won’t last forever; they haven’t come to stay, they’ve just come to pass.


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