Thursday, October 02, 2008

How much of the financial crisis is psychological?

Is your head spinning from all the doom and gloom being blasted from the media and Congress day and night about impending financial disaster? Mine is, and frankly, I sometimes wonder how much of the financial picture is accurate and how much is manufactured in order to get a Democrat elected. One has to ponder about the timing of all of this bad news.

Why the crescendo of economic collapse right before the election? Why didn't the media and congress act just as concerned some time ago or wait until sometime after the election to go into crisis mode? The timing of the current financial crisis seems too planned and calculating to be just a coincidence. Polls show that people's number one concern right now is the economy and that for the most part, voters believe Democrats are somewhat more likely to help with the economy. Could it be that the liberal media and those in Congress, knowing that, is blaring the bad economic news from the rooftops in order to manipulate voters into voting for a Democrat? If so, it won't be the first time.

Mark Penn, chief adviser to Clinton, acknowledged in his book Microtrends that people thought because of the media that the recession and economy prior to Clinton getting elected was worse than it was:

I have found over the years that there is often a huge disconnect between belief about the economy and the true economic state of affairs. Until the statistics are actually published, people tend to assess the economy through the eyes of the national media. In 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidency based on worries about the economy, the statistics that came out after the election showed that the period leading up to November had actually been a period of record growth. . . . In his 1996 State of the Union speech, President Clinton said we had the best economy in thirty years -- a statement that sent a flurry of reporters to check actual statistics rather than popular political movements and sweeping, politically motivated statements. The more people looked at the facts, the more they agreed, and six months later, there was near-unanimity that the economy was in good shape. Had the economy changed? No, what had changed was knowledge about the true facts of the economy.

My guess is that if Obama gets elected, the true facts of the economy will come out. Suddenly, our economic outlook will look much brighter after November 5th. In the coming months and years after the election, we will be told how Obama has managed this crisis and overcome it, despite the fact that he and other Democrats had their hands in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fiasco and caused some of it, but that's another story. But by then, it will be too late. Those who voted for Obama based on economic fear may realize too late that they may have buyer's remorse.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Scratch Beginnings: Is the American Dream Possible?

shepardcov.jpgOur podcast guest today, Adam Shepard, author of Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream, says the American dream is alive and well. Shepard wrote his book as a response to Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream in which Ehrenreich says that the pursuit of the American Dream is basically hopeless. Shepard set out with 25 bucks and a back-pack and went to a new town (Charleston, South Carolina) to see if he could make it. His book is a testament to personal responsibility, positive action and how education can play a part in keeping people employed. Shepard shares his inspirational story of living in a homeless shelter, working at a moving company and finally, getting his own place, and saving $2500.00.

Listen to the podcast and find out what he learned from this experience. You can listen directly -- no downloads needed -- by going here and clicking on the gray Flash player. Or you can download the file and listen at your leisure by clicking right here.

Music is by Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"I refused to settle for becoming a 'Disney Dad'"

So says Alec Baldwin in discussing his new book, A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce. The book tells of Baldwin's fight with the California family law system. In an interview with ABC news, he states:

Many readers, especially the attorneys and other professionals who play integral roles in the family law system, will automatically dismiss this book as nothing more than the grumblings of a bitter and angry man. Rather than falling prey to a corrupt system, they will say I am the victim of my own poor choices who brought all this on myself by marrying the wrong woman, hiring the wrong lawyer or through my own boorish behavior. ...

I agree that I did make things worse for myself. Foolishly, I walked into a courtroom with the expectation that I would be given some equitable rights regarding my daughter. I ignored the less than subtle message that tells non-custodial parents, especially fathers, to abandon such hopes and face the realities of this system. Walk away, we're told. Accept your fate as your penance for the poor choices you've made. Write off this failed family as the price of learning difficult lessons. The longer you hold out for what should be the right of every parent, the more expensive and painful the process becomes. ...

I had a contentious divorce because I wanted a meaningful custody of my daughter. I refused to settle for becoming a "Disney Dad," one whose role is nothing more than outings to theme parks once or twice a month. Instead I wanted to share the joys and responsibilities of raising my daughter. I wanted to be a real father, and the system punished me for that. Ultimately, I refused to give in..

I am glad Baldwin wrote this book, perhaps this topic will get some attention because he is a celebrity. But it makes me think that if Baldwin had such problems with the system with all his fame and money, what chance does the average joe have?

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"A city's environment can play a big role in how its citizens are able to cope with stress."

I was reading this MSN article about America's most stressful cities. It seems that Chicago is the #1 most stressful city in the US:

The crisis on Wall Street has New Yorkers alarmed. But it's nothing compared to the levels of anxiety those living in the Windy City feel each day.

Chicago's rising unemployment rate, expensive gas, high population density and relatively poor air quality create a perfect storm of stress, according to measures we used to calculate the country's anxiety hot spots.....

But consumers aren't fretting about these pressures in a vacuum. A city's environment can play a big role in how its citizens are able to cope with stress.

After reading about all of the problems in Chicago, I have a few questions. If Obama was such a successful community organizer, state senator and US senator, why is his city listed as "the most stressful in the US?" And if his "hope and change" mantra can't improve much in his hometown, is this a harbinger of things to come for the entire country if Obama gets elected? In other words, will the entire US become more like Chicago then before? Is this what we have to look forward to should Obama be elected?