Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In A Time of Economic Proposals, Here's Mine

After reading the news this morning, I realized I couldn't go another day without at least talking out-loud about what's going on in the world. Frankly, it's scary. Or at least I have a knot in my stomach, wondering what is going to happen next.

Generally speaking, I'm a fairly faithful person, believing that good things can work themselves out, even in bad situations. But I'm also a realist, and I recognize that we are in for a bumpy ride.

Now, I'm no social scientist or economic expert or policy wonk, but instinctually I know that the solution bantered about daily in the mainstream media and presidential debates aren't going to be enough. Billion dollar bail-outs are fine and well (okay, maybe they aren't so "fine" and "well"), but we're probably going to need some strategies on the ground, too.

So, I've been thinking about what my "economic proposal" would be during these times. What things would I propose, if I were giving a campaign speech or sitting in a boardroom? Here are my thoughts, at least for my own life:

1. I will seek shelter in community. I need my friends, family and neighbors for emotional support, so this is no time to isolate! Furthermore, they are a great resource for, well, resources. We might be able to share more to cut costs, or trade tips for making the dollars stretch, or just offer a helping hand in sickness or stress.
2. I will invest in small and local businesses (including locally grown food). Now, I'm like everybody else--I love big-box retail stores. They're convenient and cheap and on every corner. But in times like these, small business owners need the money! Plus, dollars that I spend on them "multiply" through the community in a way that dollars at Target never will. And it's clear that we could use some of that multiplication right now!
3. I will be financially responsible by living within my means, meaning that I won't take on any more debt (if I can help it), and I'll earnestly seek to pay down the debt I currently have.
4. I will take care of my health. Healthcare expenses are the number one reason people go into bankruptcy, and they are a huge financial burden on our government. Ironically, many of the top health problems are preventable. I, for one, can take my health seriously, and practice the basic principles of nutrition and exercise.
5. I will be seek to be prepared. I can't foresee everything, but I can make wise preparations the way previous generations have. I can make sure my home has food medical and emergency reserves. I can contribute to my savings account. I can properly store my important documents. I can talk with my loved ones about "just in case" situations.
6. I will be a good steward of what I have. I'll reduce waste when I can, and think of creative uses for what I already own, and use up my resources before I purchase more. And I'll share, too, since generosity is an important part of stewardship.

I think that basically covers it. No doctoral degree or sophisticated financial instruments required. Just good old-fashioned common sense with a dose of community support. Will this plan fix what ails us? In the short But it certainly can provide shelter from the storm. And in the long term--if we all practiced it--it might actually be more sustainable than those billion-dollar deals flying about these days.

Sometimes the simple things can actually make a difference.

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