Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Recession

I had a realization the other day. Every time I turn on the news I hear about THE RECESSION. It's like that crazy in-law that moves in and takes over your life. It's in the back of your mind all the time, and you can't help thinking about how much better everything will be when it's gone.

I was listening to NPR and heard a brief interview someone had with a Microsoft exec, who said that the recession should not be seen as a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad thing. The recession is a necessary part of a painful healing process for something that is much worse--over-expansion.

Think about it: for the last 20 years we've spent too much money, gotten into too much debt, bought too many houses, and the government has grown too much, spent too much, etc. We need to take a step back and start living lifestyles (individually, societally, and governmentally) that don't spontaneously implode.

They call recessions "corrections" for good reason: we've gotten in over our heads, our expectations are too high, and we need to take a breather. Think of it as an economic Sabbath--a day of rest. Some parts of our economy and culture are being pruned (which is painful), prices are falling to a normal level (which is painful for businesses but good for consumers), and resources are naturally allocating themselves back to where they would be most productive.

Yes, it's painful to be out of a job, or to not be able to make house or car payments, but I think we should see this recession as an opportunity to re-prioritize our lives: start keeping a budget, learn to live inexpensively, sell your iPod on Ebay and break out the Monopoly board instead. Cook dinner together and sit down as a family. Plant a little garden in your backyard. Take a picnic in the park instead of a stroll in the shopping mall.

The media industry that provides all the information on this "horrible" recession is also financed by commercial organizations that only thrive when you are out blowing your money on empty entertainment and things you probably don't need. Of course they're going to tell you how bad things are--it's bad for them, but not necessarily for you. Hole up for a little while, learn how to be frugal, and you should see a much healthier and much more affordable world pretty soon.

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