Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's the End of the World (but it isn't)!

I'm going to ask you all a question, and I want you to answer it honestly: Who has ever heard of "self-fulfilling prophecies". Wait, nearly all of you have? Good. It's as I expected, then. Hold on there - is it as I expected because I expected it to be that way? To be candid with you, I do believe that that is most likely the case. What the hell am I talking about? It's the economy, stupid. Duh!

Many of the Big Suits on Wall Street have let it be known they're expecting a recession in the early part of this year. The Federal Reserve has been feeling the jitters, too. Numerous jeremiads about the housing market and the fall of the U.S. dollar have already been shared with us. Bourses throughout the rest of the world (particularly in Asia, Europe and Australia) this past Monday - MLK, Jr. Day in America - recorded significant losses. Big news, or big surprise? Definitely the former, not so much the latter.

This morning, the main headline in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper reads as follows:

Wall Street, Main Street feeling financial crunch.

Beneath that, as if we needed the negativity reinforced, we see this all nicely laid out for us:

State crisis yields local spending cuts; layoffs possible
ARIZONA: Without action, state won't be able to pay expenses
NATION: U.S. government scrambling in frantic effort to avert recession.

Obviously, this is all meant to arouse a certain emotional reaction in a reader. Which reaction would that be? Why, "fear", of course. Fear keeps the people in line. Fear keeps the
system in line. Fear sells newspapers. Fear let Rupert Murdoch start the Fox Business Channel.

We watch with trepidation as U.S.-Iranian tensions boil in the Straight of Hormuz, and as our mortgage payments empty out of our wallets so we can keep our cars running on $3+ a gallon petrol, disappointing updates about the unemployment rate in the United States are announced. But do we change the channel, or throw out the newspaper? No. Why?

Because we're addicted to bad news. We consume it like druggies shoot up crack.

We're on a steady diet of shitty news, and then have the gall to complain about the resulting "stomach troubles" later. Am I surprised that people are surprised when negative financial news is announced in this day and age? I suppose a little, but not too much: As lovable as humanity is, we're pathetically predictable. If there is a recession this summer, I don't think any of us will have any justification for saying we didn't see it coming. We're inviting the damn recession into our homes in the first place, aren't we?

The correct answer, my friends, is "yes".

Ah, you say, but is there anything we can do about it?

Of course there is!

One of my favorite books is "Testimony: France in the 21st Century," written by current French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Throughout its pages, "Sarko the American" (not exactly an affectionate nickname in Paris) reminds his target audience numerous times that "Nothing is inevitable". It's a nice thought, and on that principle it is okay to ask if the prophesied recession we're hearing about is inevitable. it? Are we dealing with powers we cannot possibly comprehend?

I'm no financial expert, but I say not necessarily - and not just because I think President Sarkozy was on to something when he wrote those words. Because the ball is already rolling, it may be too late to prevent the start of the recession. I don't really believe the government is doing all it can, and even if it were, as Ronald Reagan reminded us in his first inaugural address,
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

But if we could stop the recession, I would say the best way to start is by refusing to give in to the fear.

Those who buy newspapers, the single-copy purchasers and home subscribers, aren't the ones writing the news. The news, as I noted earlier in this entry, whether naturally or artificially (or arbitrarily) bad is crafted to instill fear in us. So what to do? Do we stop reading news? Some people, like Jeffrey Gitomer (author of books such as the Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude), would say absolutely, stop consuming news altogether.

In my mind, though, that's akin to trying to sweep unsightly dust under the rug. It's still there, and we know it's there, and we're going to be tempted to look at it. Especially the next time we pick up the rug to sweep more bad dust under it. So yes, consume the news if you wish. We are creatures naturally desirous of information, after all. Yes, read a newspaper. Watch Fox News, CNN, the BBC World News, MSNBC, Bloomberg, etc. Listen to the NPR news updates on the hour.

But don't take Big Journalism's spin on events at face value. Think for yourself. A recession - and all the attendant bad news accompanying the recession - is in Big Journalism's interest. Since the people fear a recession, yet love bad news, a recession is a potential gold mine for Big Journalism. How can I say that? I know that the
New York Times didn't go out of business during the Great Depression. That's how.

Don't give in to fear. That's how you can stop, or at least shorten, any recession we're being told is due for us. That's how you can fail to help negative financial prophecies self-fulfill. The choice is yours. And you always have a choice - even when you think you don't.

1 comment:

Artisis said...

"Don't give in to fear. That's how you can stop, or at least shorten, any recession we're being told is due for us. That's how you can fail to help negative financial prophecies self-fulfill. The choice is yours. And you always have a choice - even when you think you don't."
Well written, but I'd like to rewrite or rather re-asess this to my situation as follows: Don't give in to fear. That's how I lose my goals, or at least shorten, any possibility of completing or even getting closer to my goals or rather g-d's will for me. This is my only choice I have to make. To either follow what I think is best (by letting my fears drive my emotions and life), or I can let life happen and my fear will with time, go away. The choice is mine. And I've always had a choice - even when I thought I didn't. As I believe President Eisenhauer stated, "The only thing you have to fear is fear itself." That statement, is the kind of statement that will hold true probably till the end of times, but as with most genius statements, people tend to glorify them rather than internalize them, which is the only way they can actually help. Just because somebody puts up motivational posters around their office, that doesn't mean they actually use them for their purpose. They tend to forget the posters are even there, thus taking away their purpose. This relates to me in my situation because, I am in a place in my life, where I have to make a decision to either change my entire thinking for the better, or I will naturally stubbornly change what thinking I feel is detrimental. This is erroroneus, because I am assuming that at my unripe age of twenty, that I actually know what's best for me, which no matter how badly I want to believe this, it is not true. I need to actually work on my issues, because just because i've made a decision to change doesn't mean that this will happen with my decesion. I NEED TO ACT MY WAY INTO BETTER THINKING, NOT think my way into better actions.