We Are In the Midst of a Terrible, Horrendous, Life-Threatening Economic Crisis!!!!
Actually, we aren’t.
But if you believe the media and politicians we are.
The current state of the economy is so bad, it is being compared to the Great Depression. And yet, in December, when the unemployment rate hit 7.2% (which is certainly a major issue, and a significant increase over the prior year), it was still 3.5 times LESS than the 25% unemployment rate in 1933, at the peak of the Great Depression. Alas, even in 1940, after several years of FDR’s new deal initiatives, unemployment still lingered around 15%. In 2008, 25 banks went under; Depending what you read, between 5,000 and 10,000 banks closed during the Great Depression, a rate of 14-27 per day. Granted, the banks that went under in 2008 were much larger, and over their life-cycles had taken on several smaller banks; but the expanded number if you include subsidiaries still wouldn’t come close to the numbers from the 30s.
The point is this: The current economic struggle is nothing more than that – a struggle. But it is being portrayed as something much more. Some actual headlines from the past several months include: “Economy in Turmoil”; “What Rally? Wall Street’s Faint Hope Evaporates“; and from our President, “A crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime“. The situation is bad, but I think these claims are both a little exaggerated and a little dramatic. News reports are supposed to be unbiased and rational – extreme opinions and the dramatizing situations should be left to talk-radio and bloggers.
A recent study published in British journal BMJ concluded that happiness is contagious. Even better, the study found that having an increased sum of money resulted in only a slight increase in someone’s level of happiness. So with the economy in a slow-spell, and what probably qualifies as a recession, why doesn’t the media report more positive stories, and report the strict facts & figures of the economic struggles, instead of turning every speed bump into a catastrophic event?
My wife told me last night about a report that she saw on the nightly news about some Ku Klux Klan members being arrested for plotting an assassination attempt on Barack Obama. She said the report lasted about 15 seconds, and there was no analysis, no ‘expert’ talking-heads, and was not explored any deeper. I understand the reasoning of the news production team; Obama is being touted as the hope of our nation, and they don’t want to alarm people into worrying about something awful happening to him. They want to make sure his inauguration is painted in the best possible light. And since the major new outlets control what citizens hear and read, they have that right and that responsibility.
My question is: why don’t they apply the same principle to the economic situation? A major corporation files for bankruptcy? Report that information, interview a spokesman, and then report on a positive story about someone making ends meet during this difficult time. Don’t focus on the negative aspects of the economy just like you don’t focus on anything negative involving Barack Obama.
I’m not saying it will fix the economy – it won’t. But it may actually help a little bit. So much of the economy is based on how people feel about things anyways – the stock market rides this emotional roller coaster every day. Why not try and make people feel as optimistic as possible about how things are looking. It may just make a positive impact.
Dan Mason is an accountant by trade only – he would much rather write. He constantly daydreams about being in the woods or on the water, in the middle of nowhere. He resides in the Rochester, NY, area and is thankful the Adirondacks are only a few hours’ drive away. He is happiest when there is a pen (read: keyboard) or a canoe paddle in his hand.