We’re caught in an ongoing economic crisis that reaches from the lowest to the highest levels of a global market and touches most of us in some way. We search for and find scoundrels to blame for the dilemma —greedy wheeler-dealers producing nothing, taking everything; a general, acquisitive lifestyle indulged with little heed to the fact one must eventually pay the piper.
But, as with all things human, there is another side to this situation.
What we have now is an abundance of fear, and the negative effects of reactions to that fear on a situation already ominous.
We have clear examples at hand of what unexamined fear can do to us individually and collectively, and we should learn from them. Fear can drive us to yield to impulse, to “intuition” that proves too often wrong.
With one report after another of dire economic circumstances, many of us are retreating to the “intuitively correct” reaction. Times are tough. People are losing jobs. Major economic drivers are lagging. We have an “official” recession on our hands. Big government is handing out big money, attempting to keep key industries afloat. Economic indicators are woeful.
What does intuition say? Withdraw, tighten the belt, pull back.
The natural thing to do, eh?
But, it is possible that these actions can add to the problem, not solve it.
We wonder if most of us have stopped to consider our actual situation. True, investments have taken a hit, and for some this is genuinely perilous. True, some of us are out of work, and this is serious. True, certainly locally, our major economic pillars are shaken. But, how many of us, here and elsewhere, are significantly worse off than we were last year — absent the loss of wealth on paper?
Most Americans — not all, by any means — are making as much now as they did last year. But, fear is causing many to retreat, to pull back, to become tentative.
What if the opposite action is needed? If you are making as much now as you did last year — given you are not one who bit on a flawed mortgage, or whose credit card debt is astronomical — you should continue to spend nearly as much, if not as much as you did last year.
Think about this: What happens if people who have the ability to spend cease doing so? What if people who can invest, cease doing so?
And, now, think about it in local terms. This is the holiday season, a season of traditionally strong retail activity. Our Whaddya Think? last week was shocking to some. The question of how much spending Pagosans planned to do locally brought negative responses: Not much, or none.
Some have reacted to these answers without thought, taking umbrage with question and responses, assuming naively the answers represent all local consumers or that the expressions will influence others. Both are nonsensical conclusions. The responses, instead, illustrate many things, from the need to continually improve our local commercial environment, to the fact merchants must make efforts to communicate with the local consumer.
But, they also relate to a widespread ignorance of the fact we must distribute money on a local scale — spend, and spend here. Dollars circulated here are the lifeblood of our economy. Now is the time to circulate those dollars. It is a two-way street: merchants must provide goods at competitive prices — an increasingly greater variety of goods — and must let consumers know they are available. Consumers must, in turn, spend. The interaction, absent fear, is what will help save us. We need to resuscitate our economy and we must continue to spend, in Pagosa when we can, in order to facilitate the process.