The recession hurts – can we make it better?
Everybody’s talking about the recession, the depression and what we got wrong. We all know what went wrong (from the media – 24*7) – the governments were too careless, wall street too greedy, the international economic community too ineffective and the developing countries, big oil and Detroit far too inconsiderate about the environment. The effect of all of this is that there is a weary silence in the air, demand for goods is down, interest rates are below sea-level, our environment is suffering and a lot of friends find themselves without a job.
Here’s the thing though – why doesn’t anyone advise us on what we ought to do now to make things better? Or is there really nothing we can do from our side here? Here’s a little list I came up with – by no means exhaustive nor the best list possible, but a list nevertheless that I would like to share:
- While extravagance is not advisable, maybe we should not hold back too much. If your job is still on, there is no reason why you should not buy that car or any other good you wish for and is well within your means. If anything, this is probably the best time to do our bit to kickstart the economy!
- While buying refrigerators, cars (and soaps!), include a environmental-friendliness as a key decision pointer as well. So let’s not only look at power, comfort and affordability but also take a peek at emissions and potential damage to the environment
- No doubt, companies are using environmental friendliness as an excuse to save costs during the recession (lights off after 8pm, no a/c in the weekends, powered off monitors when not in use, double-sided printing to save on paper, reduced usage of paper-based products and so on). Perhaps, we could follow some of these at home and in the car as well? This seems to be an interesting idea and shall send out a note on how I fare next week!
- Give back more to the society. For most of us, a small change in pay or reduction in benefits means a lower salary to take home, not necessarily drastic changes in quality of life. There are others though who are affected worse. Can we either cut down on some “luxuries” or perhaps be more generous to “charities” – old age homes, publich hospitals, schools and our less-financially-able friends and relatives? It seems a good idea to continue the giving when the chips are down, not only will it make the recipient happier and a sense of good-will prevail, but as such actions typically have a good multiplier effect, would benefit more folks downstream as well
- Investments are still a good thing and make us feel more secure. Governments are backing the banks and investing quite some money to force revivals. Perhaps, we should invest as well – but this time on securities that offer realistic returns – and show our faith in some of these institutions we have come to trust.
- Be a little more forgiving – like at Christmas time. Let’s face it – boom time had all of us wanting to partake of 20%+ annual salary increments without worrying where the money came from, wanting to invest in land because everyone was doing it – we were all carried away (though perhaps the bankers overdid it!) Perhaps, its time to forgive and forget and help in the rebuilding now….
- Understand that wars can drain funds faster than most recessions and abhor them. Every war we look at – and not just Afganistan – the average spend is far, far higher and returns in terms of economic-building activities far too low for these to be commercially viable or socially advisable. Perhaps, white flags + humility will help undo the damage war-cries and opportunism have wrought upon us. Let’s say no to wars…- and I mean all wars on mankind – both internal (ethnic, naxals and related) and the external ones..
- Most importantly, lets invest in ourselves during this downturn. In a year or maybe two – the world will be up-and-running again on all cylinders (no harm in us hoping, is there!). Its time to reflect on how we need to retool and reskill ourselves to prosper in the emerging brave-new-world.
- Let’s spend more time and money on things that give us greater peace of mind – books, CDs, workouts and gyms, meditation classes, arts and the crafts…..This will make us a lot happier (and the artists who bring us wonderful things for our soul should continue to pursue their dreams, not be worried about tomorrow’s finances !!!). This is also the right time to bond with our families and friends more – we all need it!
I may not have covered it all, nor thought them through enough – but I hope its still a start….If everybody reading this could act upon a couple of thoughts and better still contribute more ideas, this piece would have served its purpose – many times over……so let me leave you with a quote for our times that I found on a blog:
Aa no bhadrah kratavo yantu vishwatah (May auspicious thoughts come to us from all over the world.)