February 24, 2009

I intend to hurt the economy

I am not a malicious individual. No one knows this better than my friends.

That said, each of my actions of late demonstrate a person who does not want the economy to rebound. Government can not count on me to be a big spender. Realize that our current economy is dependent upon consumers. It is dependent upon people buying and buying. The economy thrives on people accumulating more stuff - You and I are asked to buy more stuff than we need. I am not responding to that call - not now nor in the future.

Electing to buy more than I need is not my intention. A lot of stuff will not make my life complete. Certain things are necessary for me to survive; However, a large number of purchases never need to be made. No one needs some of the things I see in stores. Do not get me wrong, even as I say this, virtually all my possessions are debatable on this point. Economic cars, roomier homes and another kitchen gadget could slightly improve my life. You have to ask, "is the value really worth the cost? "

Now, do not confuse "price" with the "cost". I mean the cost of everything about the product. Visit the site www.thestoryofstuff.com and you will get a good description of this topic. It helps you see our consumer society from a new, different perspective.

Ultimately, all my purchases will be more planned and measured. Less stuff will flow through my hands as I use what I have more efficiently and for longer periods. Admittedly, consumer economies will suffer by my selfish actions. Thus, I will not be helping the economy by my actions. Of course, no one knows better than I that my actions are what reveal my true intentions.

February 14, 2009

In Praise of Irresponsible Behavior

Recently, a Wall Street article "In Praise of Transgressions" (Feb 14, 2009) suggested that "everyone should lighten up" on accusations of public figures with notable failings. The article leaves out any discussion of responsibility, which is at the heart of the matter. We want someone to hold responsible; however, in more "vague and amorphous" situations, there is diffusion of responsibility.

Each of the big issues addressed in the article - such as drugs in baseball, issues in Gaza, stock market drops, and stimulus packages - are complex. They involve numerous people. There is no one specific individual to hold responsible for them.

Society does not hold anyone responsible unless it can point to one person. We still gnash our teeth at the complex situations, but we do not point fingers at any specific person.

People such as Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Phelps, Mr. Dashle, and Ms. Simpson can each be held responsible for their specific failings. It is difficult to hold Mr. Rodriguez responsible for all the drugs in baseball. Countless numbers of people make the game "filthy", but we can hold him responsible for his specific part. Likewise, it is difficult to hold Mr. Dashle responsible for actions of Congress. There are so many fingers in the Congressional pot that we can not hold him responsible, but we can pinpoint him for not paying his taxes.

Each of the specific failings are at the "human scale", as the article aptly suggests. We grasp the concepts of a person doing drugs, not paying taxes, or gaining weight. More importantly, though, is that responsibility is clear in these situations. We know who is responsible for those actions. Responsibility has not been diffused.

Contrast those individual actions to actions of corporations, the economy, and governments. It is difficult to determine the specific individual responsible for those actions. We can not find only one person to hold responsible. Responsibility is diffused.

The heart of this matter is responsibility. The real question, then, is "should we lower the bar on what we consider "responsible behavior"?"

February 13, 2009

Why do we love to blame inanimate things?

Blame the economy! Blame the banks! Blame executives! Why do we love to blame inanimate things?

Let's suppose there is an element of politeness here. We were taught not to point at people in public. We were also taught that if you can not say something nice about a person, then say nothing at all. We do not want to single any person out.

Although that sounds nice, I do not think we are being polite. I see people point in public. I hear things said about individuals that should not have been said. Yet, it is rare that a specific individual gets blamed for anything - except perhaps the President of the US.

Maybe I do not get out enough, but I do not see people saying "Blame Tony - the guy who lives the next block over who is a bank executive". I have not heard the likes of "Blame Leslie! She told me that she has cut down on here spending this year." They are the executives and the people that are hurting spending in the economy. Why are we blaming a group rather than specific people?

Everyone likes to blame generic things rather than specific individuals. Why?

Me. Blame me. I throw my hat in the ring. I am the one responsible. If you need to blame something, blame me!