For over a year now, I've watched as our economy has first slipped, then slid down the tubes. What began as a "downturn" became a precipitous drop. Then, it turned into a free fall.
I was amused to read a headline from a neighboring paper that called it a "Perceived Economic Slowdown." That's somewhat akin to calling an elephant a bit larger than a bread box.
There's been a great deal of frantic activity on the part of the last administration and Congress, as well as the current occupants of Washington, D.C., to find a way to turn things around. Some I agree with; some I completely oppose; and, some I just don't fully comprehend. Amid all of the frenzy to rescue the economy, there has also been lots of blame being thrown about. It's always someone else's fault. The Democrats did it. The Republicans did it. The bankers did it.
The sad news is, we did it.
We became a society addicted to consuming. We consumed cars, clothes, food, movies and fuel. We bought new things, threw out the old things, and wondered why no one made anything that lasted. We bought the labeled brands, avoided "cheap imitations," and began attaching status to having the right things.
Consumerism drives the American economy. Our constant purchases are the fuel of the economic engine. Unfortunately, like oil, we're buying most of our stuff from overseas.
China is currently wishing we would get our economy fixed, as our purchases drive their booming economy. More than 7,500 Chinese factories have closed in the last nine months due to decreased American demand. Additionally, the Chinese are the biggest holders of United States debt, so they have a vested interest in seeing us pull ourselves out of this hole.
We've become this way because we've gotten spoiled.
We can't patch clothes, we need new ones. We don't drive a car for years, only till the new models arrive. We don't eat leftovers; but, feed it to the dogs rather than reheating it.
Is it, then, really so surprising that executives have no qualms about taking billion dollar bonuses, even as the businesses they ran go under? We've come to believe that, no matter your performance or ability, you're in a top position so you deserve the pay that goes with it. Many have noticed the unqualified borrowers defaulting on mortgages; but, have they noticed the unqualified businessmen running those same mortgage firms?
We've become like spoiled children, expecting all the goodies even when we don't behave as well as we should. And, why shouldn't we? Years ago, we stopped awarding kids based upon actual performance, we gave them all trophies so that no one would feel left out or slighted. The seed was planted.
It's so easy to find people to blame for our current situation. Time Magazine had a list of the 25 that they felt bore responsibility, and it included Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Alan Greenspan and a list of business titans. It makes us feel better if we can point to them and say, "It was their fault."
Except most of it was our fault. And we're the only ones that can change the direction we're headed.
It’s all just my opinion, but it’s what I wish would happen.