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I began the following post on March 1 of this year. I set it aside because I wasn’t so sure how to end it. But the recent squabbling about how to ensure the US will be able to pay its bills has me feeling pretty sure that the next generation is going to have a tough go at it.
I’m no economist. I stink at math. But, I’m pretty sure that my children’s generation is going to be worse off than my own. What makes me think this? Consider some facts
- Our consumption oriented world cannot keep the economy afloat…debt is ballooning out of control
- Educational costs are skyrocketing and do not necessarily bring greater income potential
- We make few things in this country so jobs in industries are shrinking. At some point, don’t we need to do something other than service jobs?
- Aging baby boomers (and those of us just a bit too young to be considered boomers) are going to need a lot of help given that many live hand to mouth and with a ton of debt.
- military cuts will mean fewer 18 year olds will be able to make a living in the service.
So, if my prediction is correct…what does it mean? I suspect it means families are going to continue to live together. I should probably expect my children to live with me a lot longer than I did with my parents (I went to college and never really moved back in except for 2 summer jobs). Families will need to pool their monies more. In some ways, this may not be all bad. Family members will grow in their sense of needing each other to accomplish daily life. This is how most of the rest of the world operates. Financial security, as much as I really do like it, may give us a false sense of independence that is neither healthy to our social or spiritual lives.
Okay, back to July 2011. Our lawmakers are playing chicken with the debt ceiling and hoping the other side will budge. No matter how this turns out, someone is going to get hurt. Probably our children’s generation.
Yesterday I mused about how I didn’t see much change in the spending and consuming habits of those in my area. Yes, Jess, it does appear people are spending to abandon around here. We do have less of the credit crunch I believe since housing developments didn’t boom in this area.
But, let’s consider another related area. When times are tough on the pocketbook, one of the first things to do isn’t stuff for me, it’s donations to others. We know this because nonprofits are registering their lowest levels of donations since the weeks around 9/11 (when we suspect many stopped giving to their usual ministries to give to 9/11 victim families).
There are two possible reasons for this drop in giving: (1) people actually have less income and so give less, or (2) people give less for fear of not having enough income. Probably both are true. The challenge when we face tough times is to keep remembering to love our neighbors and not become fixated on our own needs/wants. It is true that we can love our neighbors without giving a dime but I suspect even our non-monetary giving decreases when our own anxiety increases.
This reminds me of cry of Proverbs 30:8-9: …give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, “who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Given the Wall Street/Credit crisis that impacts us all (but not yet fully clear how many different ways it will do so), are you changing your spending habits at this time? If so, how?
From my observations (and they are only anecdotal) I see little changes. When gas went over 4 bucks a gallon, I didn’t notice any drop in traffic on the road. Now that everyone’s investments have shrunk in the last few weeks and a portion of the country has gone belly up on their mortgages, are those of us who aren’t in bankruptcy changing what we do?
We’re told it is a crisis and I believe it is. But what is changing about how you spend your money? I’ve heard the stories of how the great depression and WW II changed how people ate, how they lived. My mother-in-law tells of the garden they had to feed the family, of how they had to burn furniture in the stove to heat the house.
Do you believe it will come to this for a large portion of the country?
How are you changing your spending habits now?
How much time are you spending worrying over your economic future?