Sunday, December 5, 2010

The hard days ahead

We may not be re-living the Great Depression, but this is as close as I ever want to come. Thanks to the surviving New Deal safety nets, those much-aligned government bailouts, and a modest federal stimulus, the economy is recovering -- slowly. Keep in mind that two years into the Great Depression, Hoover was still President and the economy was still sinking. I heard on the radio this morning that it may take four or five years to restore the millions of jobs lost during the recession, to the point where everyone who wants to work has a job and is working to their desired capacity.

My husband and I are fortunate. We have secure jobs, and my full-year, half pay sabbatical two years ago reacquainted us with frugal habits that still serve us well. But the last two year's political kabuki, culminating in the shameful unemployment insurance extension vs. tax cuts lame duck congressional drama has convinced me that it is serious hunker time.

What do I mean by hunkering down? I don't mean withdrawing into my shell, taking care of myself and building walls to protect my safe little world. There's too much of that attitude around, as it is. Here's the deal:

Whatever the government does that is going to work, it's going to take a while. (If we are lucky, the bad stuff will also take its time to manifest itself. Some silver lining!) So it's up to me to make sure the people in my immediate circle survive the hard days ahead. That means supporting my son until he gets work. Entertaining more at home, because it not only saves money, but feeds bodies and souls. Working through my communities to neighbors in need. Supporting local nonprofits who are taking of the slack when government programs are cut back.

This doesn't mean I've given up on political activism. I will be watching our leaders and I have an excellent memory. Any politician who blocks good ideas for the sake of partisan politics or cold ideology -- should consider that a warning.

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