The title of this post is the best news you’ve had all day. Why?
Because when I say Americans are a problem, I mean you. All of you. Including the guy writing this post. Why’s that good news?
When you’re problems mostly stem from that jackass in mirror, you often find yourself yelling at the same person in the best position to solve them.
“Okay, Mr. Smart man, how do we solve our problems when the economy is so bad and politicians won’t listen to us?”
Glad you asked that.
First off, you need to give up your pet assumptions, namely that someone who does not share your political beliefs is somehow evil or misguided. In fact, if you use the term “politically challenged,” you are part of the problem. If you think it’s the government’s job to grow your 401k, you are part of the problem. If you believe everything Glenn Beck or Michael Moore tells you is the boogie man, you really are part of the problem. So what’s the solution?
- First off, stop worrying about the stock market. The stock market does not make anything. The stock market does not provide any services other than the buying and selling of stock. The stock market is a big savings account for investors and a means of raising cash for companies. The economy is driven by two things: Buying goods and services, selling goods and services. Stocks are just an investment vehicle. The only thing the government can do for you there is to make sure those tasked with buying and selling stock on your behalf follow the rules. Here’s a hint for you: Those regulations the SEC enforces? They’re not government regulations. They’re written by accountants. Deviate from them, and… Well… We all saw what happened to Enron, didn’t we?
- Turn off talk radio, pundits, and the political blogs. Glenn Beck likes to compare Obama to Hitler not because it’s true. It scares people, and fear, like sex, sells. Likewise, Michael Moore, a man who is about as socialist as JP Morgan, likes to tell you who the big corporate boogie man is this week. Even when it’s not. Consider his movie Sicko. Brits and Canadians, who incidentally don’t want an American healthcare system, giggle uncontrollably when Moore talks about the utopia of their healthcare systems. In reality, they don’t want the American system anymore than they think we should switch to theirs for the very same reason: They only work in the places where they were designed and implemented. If the man on TV, the radio, or the Internet is trying to scare you, ask him how much he makes per terrified senior citizen. Then go watch something with a little more substance. Like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
- The housing mess really is our fault. Think about this for a second. We buy cars, houses, and gadgets we can’t afford, working jobs we hate to pay for it all so we can impress people we don’t like. Every economic crash from 1837 onward can be tied back to two things: overextended credit and rampant speculation. That’s right. The need to keep up with the Joneses brings down again and again. Do you want to do your part to save the economy? Whenever Jones buys the latest big screen TV, takes out a mortgage he can’t afford, or buys a flashy car, instead of trying to one up him, just say to yourself, “Fuck Jones!”
- Learn to say no to your kids. Nita and I have spoiled AJ, but we’ve always told him no, we can’t do some things because we’re a little tight on money or we had an unexpected expense. He does not argue. If anything, he probably knows more about managing his money than you do about yours. And this is a kid without a job. If your kid pitches a tantrum because he can’t have the latest and greatest, it’s called time-out. It worked for my generation. They’ll get over it.
- Yes, a lot of things are out of our control. That should be a no-brainer. So ask yourself what isn’t beyond your control. What did you do today to make your life better? Or your family’s? Or your coworkers’? What did you do to look for a job today? Sure, unemployment’s still high, but the flip side of that is a lot of jobs are going unfilled. Why? I hate to tell you this, but while you shouldn’t have to settle for bag boy wages to do a skilled job, you also shouldn’t expect to make an outrageous salary for something that probably wasn’t worth that in the first place. You should be able to find a good job. That doesn’t mean you deserve enough to fund a McMansion. Quit chasing Jones. Jones is a moron.
- Quit complaining that no one wants your service, your skill, or your product anymore. I have no need of a buggy whip or a typewriter. If the world changes around you, change with it. Want to know why India is getting so many jobs that Americans used to do? Guess what. They saw they needed new skills, so they learned them. You should do the same. The world is changing. Look at that as an opportunity, not a problem. It’s not 1948 anymore. We’re not going to be making half the world’s stuff again for a long, long time to come.
- Fear of change: Yes, it’s natural. No, it’s not productive. Get over it. Embrace change. Move ahead.