Every day we are greeted with more headlines about how horrible the economy is and how we are just minutes away from another Great Depression. Well, I said it when they tried to talk us into recession and I will say it again now: Have your economic crisis. I choose not to participate.
There are some bad things happening in the financial markets right now. And things may get worse before they get better. Especially if the government gets involved, as they always want to do. But we are not all using our last dime to fuel up our SUVs so we can drive over to the soup kitchen.
In fact, when you look at polls about the economy, lots of people say they are worried. However, when the questions are asked another way, they say they are doing fine—but they are worried about other people. You know, the people with the sad stories they keep seeing on the news.
Think about every story you have read about the economy over the last several years. For example, before every holiday season we get all of the stories about how merchants expect spending this year to be lower than last year. They are going to have to resort to sales (gasp!) to get customers into the stores. As if there were never sales at holiday times in the past.
The best part comes when the season’s spending is tallied up. We get the headlines about how spending was “only” 5% higher than last year, and what a disappointment that is. Huh? After you told us everyone was expecting spending to decline, a 5% increase is a disappointment? I am not a math whiz, but I understand that a 5% increase is better than a decrease.
Almost every story I read has a similar agenda: make people think things are terrible and there is no good news. I had this reinforced this morning when I saw a reporter’s request for people to interview for an upcoming story about whether or not workers will have enough money to retire. They were looking for people in three categories, and not one of them included people who feel comfortable that they do have enough money to retire. Every person they will interview will be someone who makes the reporter’s point about how bad things are.
Are there people who, whether through bad decisions or just plain bad luck, are hurting? Certainly. There always have been, and there always will be. We all feel for the people who fall on hard times and most of us look for ways to help them. But don’t fall for the lie that we are all “just one paycheck away from being homeless.”
There are things you should do to protect yourself. For example, you might want to reconsider having more money in any one bank than the FDIC will insure. Don’t spend money you do not have for things you do not need. Do not borrow to purchase depreciating assets, and that includes almost anything you would buy with a credit card. All of these things are good advice even when the economy is booming.
I am going on strike, starting now: I am not going to read any of the stories about how bad the economy is. ‘Bye, media. You will not be missed. Start the Great Depression without me.