Thursday, December 24, 2015

Joy to the World

There is an economic indicator that has gone unreported and will have devastating consequences if left unchecked.  How this one marker of our countries recovery has gone unreported is perhaps another indicator of the depth of the damage that families have had to endure over the last 8 years.

Many say the economy has gotten better and that families are more secure than in the past.  Many postulate that the recovery was a success and that the country is on the road to economic recovery once again.  But the reality of any economy has to be measured by the strength of its individual members and in this case the measure for success is simply not there.

60% of all Americans have less than a thousand dollars in saving.  Before you gloss over that staggering number, think about what you have in savings?  How hard were you hit by the continuing recession?  I say continuing because a recession should not just be measured by the technical indicator of two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country's gross domestic product (GDP).  A recession is both a national measure and an individual measure.  But when the individual measure of risk involves a significant number of the population the GDP measure should be discounted, while the national measures of grouped individuals should be promoted.

That’s what we have now and that’s why we are still in a recession.  What does it matter if the country is going strong if the citizens of that country continue to suffer and struggle? 

When 60% of Americans have less than a $1,000 dollars the risk of emergency fallout is critical.  In addition to the above number 21% of those surveyed (5,000) had no saving at all.  What happens when a car breaks down, or a hospital stay occurs, or a broken bone or even a loss of a job?  The risks to life become dire when 60% of all Americans run the risk of total failure from life’s common events.  This is not economic recovery; this is the reality of our economic policies and the absolute disregard for the people of this country.

I must mention that there is a trend afoot that might have some measure of influence over the above numbers and that is the lack of desire toward accumulating saving’s.  Many simply refuse to save and willingly live paycheck to paycheck.  They buy too much, they want too much and they are unhappy with the prospect of driving a used car as opposed to a used car.  They have forsaken frugality and the joys of security for the pleasures of now.

The trend not to save may have some influence over the 60% discussed but there is no measure to indicate what percentage of people succumbs to the pressures of selfishness over savings.  The indicator of past economics however does put a clear picture of personal responsibility with the understanding that prior to the past recession the number of those who had significant savings was far higher and those without at least a $1,000 was significantly lower.

Is it the entire governments fault?  Do the people have a role to play in this looming disaster?  From a political view, I am the Political Dad, so speaking politically should not be a surprise, but from that political view the democrats blame big business and the
Republicans blame the Democrats.  Only a handful of candidates are placing blame on the government. 

Trump wants to lower taxes significantly and that will have a serious impact on the government’s ability to collect revenues.  Ted Cruze also wants to lower taxes and even Jeb bush, yes he is still in the race, wants to lower taxes.  But the question arises, is it simply the ability to save that is the question of personal economic health?  Will lower taxes help the individual to save more or will they simply spend more?

The real question is not about money at all in fact the real issue is in understanding the difference between pleasure and joy.  In short and apart from the economics that have affected all of us is that basic understanding that pleasure always comes from something outside of you, while joy is realized from within.

We may get great pleasure from that new car or a new house or new clothes etc…but the fleeting and temporary condition that is pleasure never lasts and must be supplanted with other external stimulus in order to be sustained. 

We get great joy from delving deep into our selves, loving who we are and what we have, being appreciative of the blessings that surround us.  Joy cannot be taken away nor diminished by age or use.  Joy builds like a bank account, growing stronger as we deposit positive thoughts and memories. 

The problem with so many perhaps is that while pleasure costs money and is easy to obtain the long term effects quickly fade away.  Joy requires time and attention; it requires love and devotion, thoughts and thoughtfulness toward others and ourselves.  

 With the current recession raging unchecked in most of our lives and with a government and leaders who fail to understand the significance of their policies we are not powerless to create that significant change that will lift our spirits and our lives out of the selfish pool of despair. 

Don’t get me wrong we cannot pay our bills with an increase of joy but we can learn to live more fully and do so with less expenditure, creating a healthy, positive life style that will allow us to save more and be more balanced economically and spiritually.

Especially now, during this Christmas Season (noticed I did not use the irreverent xmas) when our minds are more in tune with the selfless and more prone to service.  We are a great and resilient people but we should never forget from whence we came.  As I proclaim to all who read I am a child of God and acknowledge his parentage to me.  I am of royal birth and understand my duties to live by the royal creed of “men are that they might have joy” (2Nephi 25, the Book of Mormon)


Merry Christmas to one and all….