Simmer Down Now

Allow me to be the voice of reason: let's all get a hold of ourselves and our fears about the economy.

Look, I fully acknowledge that our country's economic situation is worsening, but the sky is not falling. Friends, this is not the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. We are just too young to understand the broader context of America's economy. Part of my masters thesis has been/will be studying the economic climate in 19th century America. There was usually a depression in our country every 10 to 15 years. We are in better structured today to deal with a faltering economic situation than we ever have in our country's history.

The fundamental change in our present economy is that there is no fast money to be made right now. For an instant-gratification culture, this is being interpreted as the end of the world. There are tons of numbers flying around right now designed to strike fear in the heart of Americans, but don't believe the hype.

The irony of this time of recession is that it's still not being understood in the context of America's newly-imagined cost of living. How many people do you know that are cutting back— I mean really cutting back? The early Christmas shopping season was better than the expected gloom and doom. People are still traveling, watching satellite television, and indulging their consumer-driven ideals. So even though American claim they are struggling, I suggest that it's being measured to higher standards than mere survivability.

I'm calling it like I see it: this is just even more spin by people looking to secure that our President-elect looks good in his first 100 days. For some reason, there are people insinuating that it's critical for our country that Bush pack up his junk, back up the U-Haul and get out of Dodge tonight. Democratic leadership is pressuring Obama to step up and lead now even though he lacks the Constitutional authority to do so. Succumbing to this pressure, he made an announcement Saturday morning outlining his big ideas to right the economy. This is somewhat unfortunate as, I believe, Obama has now prematurely released some ideas that are not fully thought out.

For example, the big news from Saturday is that the President-elect will propose a public works project on the scale of Eisenhower's establishment of the interstate system. This, he suggests, will create new jobs and spur economic growth. I am a fiscal conservative at heart and do not buy into this theory of economic stimulation. Sure, you create temporary jobs, but you also cripple the ability of the private sector to emerge and create their own. Let's not forget that the New Deal was not the solvent of the Great Depression; rather, it was "the ultimate stimulus package" of World War 2. But, hey,Obama will be in charge and he's going a different direction. I'm OK with that.

But my gripe with Obama's declaration is his overlooking of history in the process. Sure, you can observe that Eisenhower's works program was a boom to our country, but you cannot neglect to admit that it came with a price— the decimation of urban America. The building of the freeways was the beginning of suburban sprawl which left our cities in ruins. So while overall our nation benefited, we are still dealing with the negatives of that decision. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have built those interstates; I've been rekindling my fondness for our highways recently. But when it is done with just the dollar [or job] in mind, the negatives our ignored.

Hence, my ministry is now dealing with the residual effects of America's boom.

I'm just suggesting that our President-elect slow down and take the time to fully consider the ramifications of these suggested actions. No one's expecting him to turn this thing around in a matter of weeks, so he has the time.

It's not as bad as you think.