David Reynolds | Wasting away
Not only in Margaritaville, but here and everywhere, we are wasting away. We have allowed our God-given talents and resources to be put on hold. Why? Because we have found the perfect excuse. We have found one that nobody challenges. You know what it is. “It’s the economy.”
Yep, anything you, your business or your government have failed at recently, no matter the internal problem, just blame the general economic downturn. No need to second guess if you have not run a good store, not worked hard enough or not made smart decisions. It not your fault. Just blame you know what.
Ask yourself, how many times this past week have you heard or read of someone using “The economy is in the tank” excuse? Likely at least once when it had nothing to do with the economy.
Okay, Dave, you have made your point. But it’s human nature to point fingers. Self blame and a good self image don’t mix. There is no harm in using a down economy to pick ourselves up.
Wrong! First, you are overlooking the Law of Self-Fulfilling Prophesy. It states that if a rationale is repeated enough times it becomes socially accepted. Look at what happened when Nazi Germany followed this law. Millions of lives were lost. But do we know what happened when this nation followed the same law? A short recession became a long depression – not just an economic one but a national mental depression. That is what made the 1930s Great Depression so awful. Our spirits were as down as our pocketbooks.
Ask your parents or grandparents about the 1930s. Or ask me. I was born smack in the middle of the ‘30s. There was nothing great about those years. At the same time my hometown ran out of its economic fuel – coal. And a dark national picture became an even darker one locally. What made it so dark were not the lost jobs. It was the fact that we were in a collective funk. And afraid.
Get the picture? If we are not careful about using today’s great excuse, history will repeat itself.
There is the another side of the recession coin, the good side, the opportunity side. Think of today’s times as a cleansing of the recent bloated economy. We are now on a diet. A young bear has taken over an old bull. Let’s not waste away the bear’s takeover. It is an opportunity to slim down in order to better serve others. Here are four illustrations:
– GOVERNMENT. With state and local tax receipts down government should do what businesses normally do – consolidate. It works! If two large airlines, Delta and Northwest, need to merge in order to survive, maybe little old Lexington and Rockbridge County should be thinking along the same lines. Only in Virginia are there independent cities too small to provide basic services without a heavy tax burden. Does Lexington have to become as poor as Clifton Forge before it considers town status?
– SCHOOLS. Consolidation can help here, too. We don’t need the additional school capacity that the Obama administration wants to throw our way as part of its solution to a recession no one fully understands. Why not just reduce administrative costs, provide greater course selection and keep our best teachers by acting on our own? Local school mergers usually make sense. At least for the children, which is all that matters. In 1992 we did it for a high school. In 2012 maybe we can do the same good deed for our middle-school students. And redraw a few school boundaries while we are at it. Another point: If there is a single composite index, not three, for the area, state aid would be more equitable.
– HOUSING. Housing is now more affordable than in decades. Yet sales are down. Why? It involves ego. We focus on what we paid for our homes or their past values, not the cost spread between a home being sold and one being considered for purchase. And if the house you wish to sell is your last one before planning to move into a retirement home? Stay put. You may be better off.
– BUSINESSES. Walk the streets of Lexington and Buena Vista, stop at each vacant storefront. Ask yourself what was there and why it left. More than likely it was an inappropriate fit for downtown or poorly managed. Recessions don’t tolerate poor business decisions. Don’t blame downtown.
Remember, the national employment rate is 92.4 percent. That’s correct! You may have heard another figure, 7.6 percent. That is the unemployment rate. Actually, both figures are personally meaningless. It is either 100 percent or 0 percent. You either have a job or you do not.
Of course, if you think that I am a Pollyanna and you don’t care to see the opportunities in today’s economy, be my quest. Keep using the standard excuse. It fools everyone. Including yourself.
– Column by David Reynolds