The “BAD” Economy

Does the economy really suck?

I was listening to a radio talk show and one of the hosts was talking about her son being home from college and how he was having trouble finding a summer job. Many people called in telling about how they or their children were finding work. One told of how he had just been in Aruba and he’d found out that all the Caribbean islands were hiring overseas kids for their resorts, and that there was plenty of work. The host said she didn’t want her son working so far away. The other host jokingly asked how she would feel if he got a job at an adult book store novelty shop. She said she wouldn’t want her 19 year old son working there. There were several other suggestions people made that she considered unsuitable.
I find it interesting that while she said her intention was for her son to get a job, she put so many restrictions on it.

Her perception was that in “this economy” jobs are scarce. Yet when people offered suggestions, she wasn’t open to them. So where is the scarcity?

One woman called in and said her home-from-college daughter was able to find work this summer, but her son was not. She shared how her daughter had created her own web-based business when she 12 years old, making and selling cloth cases for glasses. The girl obviously worked hard and didn’t have the perception that employment was scarce, and she landed a job the moment she wanted one. The mother’s perspective was that the girl was lucky and her son was not.

Again I ask: Where’s the scarcity?

Are we in a bad economy? I dunno… what’s your perception? More millionaires are made during times of so-called economic depression than any other time. So is it really a depression or recession. Or is it just a concession we make so we don’t have to take responsibility for our own lives? (Interesting how the word concession begins with the word CON).

When I was in high-school, the US had a population of about 226 Million. (Don’t ask why I remember that number… I have no idea how it stuck in my brain.) Today our population is around 307 Million. We have an expectation that the unemployment rate should be well under 10%. Back in the early 80’s it hit 10% and people cried about the horror of it. There are now 80 Million more people in this country. Do you really think it makes any sense to expect that 80 million new job positions would be created in 30 years? Where would these jobs come from? How much bigger would the buildings have to be? How many more companies would have to be created?

We tend to think that our job defines us. A miner is a miner, a teacher is a teacher, and a factory worker is a factory worker. So when the mine shuts down the miners think they can’t work anymore. When the school budget is cut, the teacher can’t seem to find another job. When the factory closes, the workers feel they have nowhere to go.

It’s not always easy changing gears. If all you know is one set of skills, it can be daunting and scary to realize you have to learn a whole new set of skills so you can find (or create) work. This is in part due to the fact that we are still being sold on the idea of a career. Even though the days of working 20 or 30 years for one company and then retiring with a pension is virtually defunct, many of us still think that once we get a job we’ll be ok. We may have to take an occasional course or two to keep relevant, but we have our certificate or degree and that’s that. It just doesn’t work that way anymore.

That’s why the trend is so much more towards entrepreneurialism. The people who create their own jobs are making a living. People who limit themselves to only finding jobs offered by others are playing a game of musical chairs where there are a lot more players, but not more chairs.

Large companies survive by diversifying. Individual people need to learn to survive the same way. Is it difficult to just pick up and move to another town when the jobs disappear where you live? For many people it is. But difficult is not impossible. If your focus is on how you got screwed instead of how you are going to adjust to the changes, then you are only hurting yourself more. Even if you did get royally screwed, the more you focus on that aspect of the situation, the more you are disempowering yourself.

If you want to re-empower yourself, then start thinking about creating a new situation for yourself instead of focusing on the old systems that no longer serve you.