January 01, 2009
Happy New Year?
Some thoughts on the coming year.
It's all about the economy. By now, my following of the day to day ebb and flow of the daily machinations of the economy has nearly supplanted my following of the day to day political discussion and storyline. With an economy collapsing around us it's hard to take Rod Blagojevich, for example, seriously enough to require my full attention. On the other hand, the car wreck that is the economy is fascinating.
But because everything is everything, the economic discussion is the political discussion. Blago be damned. (or indicted, whatever works.)
While all of the conventional economic prognostications for the upcoming year range from dire to grim mainly because of job losses, I have what is ultimately an alternative point of view:
Everyone who has been coasting and/or gaming the system for the last ten years is in for a rough time. If you find yourself to be unnecessary to the functioning of your company or government agency then you should prepare now to be 'made redundant', as the say in England. In the upcoming pull back, people will have to re-invent themselves in order to continue bring home the bacon. Businesses will have to become lean and mean. People will have to take pay cuts, essentially, to remain employed. This will result in further diminishment of the profit margins of retailers and related businesses which will result is still more lay offs. But at some point, the descent in the amount of total jobs will become an ascent. It's then just a matter of holding on until that begins to happen. Also, there is only so much the government can do to artificially prop up an economy in descent.
The key to recovery will be found in the very DNA of us as Americans. Call it sunny Reaganism, but I happen to be of the belief that Americans are enterprising enough to find a source of income somewhere, in some corner of the vast economy should they find themselves to be laid off. Because, as in the real estate market, we have to find the bottom of this overall financial mess. We have to flush out all the Bernie Madoff's and people who at the end of the day don't work hard enough to deserve being employed or who have been otherwise dogging it. Those employees who have already been operating with a fire in the belly and the essential understanding that they're only as good as their last performance will, in all likelihood, be safe. Everyone else, I'm sorry to have to report, is on notice.
So while 2009 will be a painful year for many, the only way out is through. Ultimately, businesses that are not viable and employees who have been phoning it in for years deserve to and should be allowed to fail. Ridding ourselves of this dead weight will ultimately be to the benefit of our economy moving forward. So take heart, for as our old pal John McCain used to like to quote Chairman Mao, "It's always darkest before the dawn.".