Thursday, October 22, 2009

Never Trade Luck for Skill

I came across that suggestion yesterday and, single-minded cretin that I am often (with reason) accused of being, thought of the ten of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of small and quiet decisions that households across this nation make on a daily and weekly basis as the economic tides continue to threaten to pull so many of us under.

A non-economist acquaintance once shared with me 'when you're out of a job, it's a recession; when I'm out of a job, it's a depression' and I suspect there's more to that than meets the eye. At the end of last week and intermittently this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been 'flirting with 10,000 points'. I have absolutely NO idea what any of that preceding sentence means, but I've heard it repeatedly and parrot it like I know what I'm talking about.

All of us do. We all assume, or did until it turned out the whole house of cards decided to reshuffle itself, that someone somewhere knew and understood what it was we were doing for most of the last decade. Like Wimpy, offering to gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today knowing full well we would have no money on Tuesday, we just kept adding days to the calendar and hoped Tuesday wouldn't arrive.

When the economic ship of state started taking on water, I didn't really understand the big picture and, like so many, haven't been as successful as I'd like in appreciating the larger picture and fuller impact. Conversely, with Bernake in the Seventh House and Geithner aligned with Mars (or something like that) am I alone in detecting a tone of barely-controlled euphoria by broadcast and print news reports on economic growth? Except I'm still not "getting" it.

Why isn't it all this just Accidental Excellence (not this one)? When we got it right, we had no idea what we did to produce those positive results so, not surprisingly we couldn't duplicate them, so when things started to go south, we went with them. It's hard to not be superstitious, wash your face and hands, until you get the bill at the end of the month for soap and water. In times of stress we rely more on routines, they offer us the appearance of the familiar, the known and the comfortable and serve, in their way, as a mantra against a world we cannot otherwise manage.
"Thirteen month old baby broke the lookin' glass. Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past." Sounds about as long as some of us think these hard times will last-while others who've never known other than hard times wonder what all the handwringing is about.
-bill kenny

No comments: