Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let's stimulate ourselves!

Economy, stimulus, bailout, stock market.  It’s all you hear and on everyone’s minds.  Some people have been greatly effected because they are now unemployed, others have seen the value of investments decline; others have cut back spending due to fear.

As a self employed artist I have been affected too.  I see first hand the cyclical effect of job cuts and spending cuts.  The less people buy, more jobs get cut, resulting in even more people buying less and so on.   So what breaks this cycle?  What can be done? What can I do, what can we do?

While the congress and the President handle the big stuff with the stimulus package, and news pundits yap about it, I realize we shouldn’t just sit and wait for it to start working while shaking an angry fist at bailout bonuses. We can and should do our part and help ourselves.  

I believe in the concept of the stimulus package.  The basic idea is that the government spends money on projects, since big companies aren’t spending (either they don’t have the money to spend or don’t want to).  These projects (whether it’s highway repair, education, improving national parks) will create jobs directly and indirectly.  This puts people back to work, which gives them money to spend, thus putting more people to work and so forth.  

We as consumers and workers need to employ that concept and stimulate ourselves (get your mind out of the gutter).  The basis of the economy isn’t investing in or the value of stocks, it’s the manufacturing, selling and buying of goods and services.  Investing is fine if you want to grow your money, but it is, when you get right down to it, gambling.  Right now we all need to invest in then basic economy first.  We need to stop listening to those TV financial advisors who tell us to stop buying and cut out all unnecessary spending.  That may help the individual in the short term, but for the big picture that’s just going to hurt more businesses, put more people out of work and keep the downward spiral going until those who are currently employed get pink slips too.  I’m not advocating spending money you don’t have, but if you can still afford your afternoon latté, go for it.  You get to treat yourself, at the same time you’re paying it forward.  You’re investing in the economy and adding to your own job security. In economic terms it's called consumer confidence, but right now we need to take a little consumer leap of faith.

So I’ll go out and buy that latté and if enough of us do that, that coffee shop owner can rehire that manager.  Then this spring that manager can buy those shrubs and flowers for his yard, which will keep the owner of the garden center in business so he can treat himself to those Michael Breyette print’s he’s been drooling over. So you see, on the surface that cup of coffee may seem a wasteful indulgence, but that’s what we need to do.  Think about how your own actions come back to hurt or help you.

We have hope, now we need to add action to our hope.

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