Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Economy Makes you Think

My mother and mother-in-law reused aluminum pie plates and plastic baggies and guess I never really understood why. They also recycled plastic milk jugs, empty lard cans and almost anything else they came in contact with. They believed that wasting food was a sin This always amazed me.

I’ve even had a little fun at their expense until Jilda’s mom Ruby set me straight when shesaid “if you lived through the hard times we lived through, you’d never take this stuff for granted.” She was of course talking about the Great Depression.

Most folks I know had no frame of reference because the economy, except for a few downturns, had been chugging right along.

That all changed last year when a combination of scandals, the implosion of real estate markets, bank failures, and rising unemployment made the prospect of a economic depression a reality.

Trillions of dollars in net worth evaporated like steam from a cup of hobo coffee.

Unemployment today is running almost nine percent and I can tell you it was frightening, thankfully it now looks like the pace has slowed down.

During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was almost thirty percent. People went hungry. Some say the free fall began on Black Tuesday which was October 29, 1929 and lasted in some areas for ten years until the country cranked up to manufacture supplies for World War II. Our parents lived through these hard times, and they never forgot it.

The recession of 2008/2009 was a shot across the bow for all Americans. Even the wealthiest Americans have seen their fortunes shrink like a cotton shirt in a clothes dryer. The possibility of losing our jobs forced most of us common folk to take a hard look at our lives. It no longer seems strange to be recycling and reusing things.

One piece of good news I read is that more people are saving money for the first time in their lives.

More people are eating at home with the family and taking vacations closer to home. Does that sound familiar mom?

I’ve also noticed that more people seem to be taking their lunches to work instead of paying top dollar for cafeteria food.

I know all of these cutbacks are slowing down the economic recovery, but I think part of the root cause is unbridled growth fueled by people living beyond their means.

Call me old fashion but I think people should be able to pay for the houses they buy. There are a lot of people living in new houses paying interest only. That’s almost like renting from the bank

Here is some advice our mom’s (Ruby and Elwanda) would give younger folks today:

Grow a garden

Reuse, recycle, and repair stuff instead of tossing it

When it comes to your car, drive it till the wheels fall off. It rides better when it’s paid for.

Make do

Save and pay cash instead of using plastic

When you can, get out of debt.

Until recently these ideas seemed old fashion, but it’s amazing how modern and hip they sound these days.

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