Jim Bishop | Post-Thanksgiving Postulate – Takin’ Care of Business

Trying to comprehend what’s happening with the economy is for me much like trying to understand algebraic equations or women – a futile exercise – but, I’ll comment anyway.

There may be a bright side to them economic blues, momma. I anticipate some businesses slowly lowering prices on some goods and services to lure more customers back inside, and people can’t resist bargains (defined as something you don’t need but you buy it and later add to the table at your own yard sale).
One encouraging spot is watching gas prices slowly descend from their recent obscene heights, although it does seem almost pathetic to get so excited when the price drops below two dollars a gallon when even that is still way more than we should be paying.

But, it does go to show: The lower the prices, the more business activity may result. Sacrifices are made, but more people are willing to approach the altar.

My wife and I feel the pinch mostly at the grocery store and in the ole pension fund that screams, “Now you see it, now you don’t!”with each quarterly statement. We could handle it more easily were we not little more than two years to retirement.

But, even while we hear strange invoices, we haven’t had to make major adjustments to our system of checks/debit cards and balances – yet. My hunch as to why: we haven’t had any recent major emergency expenses – apart from a crisis last Monday morning when our faithful Mr. Coffee refused to perk – that’s grounds for dismissal, sir! We’ve tried hard to stay on track with monthly bills and mortgage/equity loan payments.

We’ve deferred purchase of things that, if we’re honest, are wants and not necessities. We’ll also play a waiting game on replacing certain other items. (That so-called economic stimulus check received some months ago largely went to pay bills, including an unexpected large repair bill). Every place we go, we ask said establishments if they offer a senior discount. Persons flash a sympathetic smile as we reach for the small beverage cup that is free with purchase.

The economic outlook is likely to become bleaker before we see any signs of improvement. I draw some small comfort from recognizing that most of us are in this together for the long run, playing the survival game.

Meanwhile, it’s difficult for me, a non-business type, to see our government act like it’s “business as usual,” with legislators who have all their present and future financial needs well covered rewarding banks and corporations for their poor judgments.

We have a lame duck president who can’t wait to flee back to Texas, and I fear that by Inauguration Day Mr. Obama will have an overwhelming burden on his shoulders.

Along with the bailouts, another grievous thing is the amount of our total U.S. budget going to defense, including paying for past, present and future wars and related military expenditures.

According to Wikipedia, the United States government is currently spending at the rate of approximately $1 trillion per year for all defense-related purposes. I keep thinking what difference it might make if only a small portion of that total could be reallocated to burning domestic needs as well as to feed starving and malnourished people around the world.

One encouraging sign for me amid the gloom is that charitable giving appears to be holding steady, even increasing in some sectors. Amid the uncertainty, many people by their actions are declaring that “giving until it hurts” will remain a priority.
Which leads me to say that I believe individual and corporate greed is a prime culprit in sucking us into this quagmire. If each person who is able was to spend a bit less and give more, personally and financially, might a lifeline drop to begin drawing us out of the quicksand of despair?

Let’s keep our heads up.


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Postlude: On a more pleasant note (well, maybe not) . . .

Can it be that time already? Yes, I’m afraid it is – another holiday fruitcake edition of the “Warped Records Show” is half-baking in the oven.

Join yours truly, Jim (the grinning Grinch) Bishop, and Jim ((Santa’s Little Yelper) Britt as we roast more musical chestnuts on an open turntable (actually, computer hard drive). In fact, we’re going to double your displeasure, ruin your fun with two servings of celestial seasonings -10 a.m.-noon Monday, Dec. 1, and 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Dec. 18 on newsradio ho-ho-no 550, WSVA.

Yule love it . . .


– Column by Jim Bishop

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