All in Agreement: Stimulus Package
March 1, 2009
Is doing “bad” good or bad? Are you one of the many people I’ve talked to who are wondering why “big companies who do bad get bailed out?” I don’t think those of you in business will see a wall and ceiling stimulus or bail-out plan any time soon. Recently, a contractor told me he feels like he’s in an Indiana Jones movie where the floor, ceiling and walls are squeezing in on him and he can’t find an escape route. No matter which market he turns to, it’s affected by the downturn in our economy. People say we shouldn’t talk politics or religion and I don’t plan on spending any time on religion (even though prayer is probably a good idea right now).
What happened? Where did all the business go, why did it disappear and what’s going to happen in the future?
I’ve decided to copyright the word “McDoom” since I recently nicknamed a fellow Mr. McDoom. Mr. McDoom believes that things are going to get worse and believes there will be bread lines and possibly a revolution in the near future. Mr. McDoom has created a following of “doomers” who also feel out of control and know that things are going to get worse before they get better. Are you a doomer?
Think of the construction boom as one share of stock you bought for $10. Let’s call the company you bought stock in McDoom Financial. It was one of the worst-run companies on the planet but it made a lot of money, so your one share of stock went up 10 percent a month. You kept the stock because it kept doubling and tripling in value. When the stock had risen to $1,000 per share, you considered selling it but you decided to keep it. After all it only cost you $10 in the first place. “Let it ride, it will never go back down to $10,” you thought.
Ten years later, you pick up the newspaper and find out that McDoom Financial is broke and your one share of stock is worthless. First you laugh and then you think about kicking yourself but you’re not double jointed enough to reach where you need to be kicked.
Would you call your decision not to sell the stock greed? Well, greed is pretty much what happened and is why the economy is where it’s at today. Do you know any politicians who would want the economic growth to stop or who would really make an effort to try and stop the boom? Politicians have to do what is popular. You can’t be the one who says that we are heading for trouble.
Can you imagine what would happen if a popular politician went to the New York Times to tell them that the American Financial Institutions are in trouble and the economy is going to crash? There is absolutely no chance that a popular American politician would try to put the brakes on a runaway economy. After all, he would never get re-elected.
Mr. McDoom tells me he saw it coming three years ago as clear as a bell. I think every one of us wondered when things would slow down, stall or crash for that matter. All of us talked about it, and I wrote about it but very few people other than Mr. McDoom planned for it. Now that the economy has slowed, stalled or crashed, have you decided what you’re going to do about it?
You may have lost all confidence in politicians, Wall Street, the media, and maybe the very financial institution you bank with. Politicians, Wall Street, the media, and your bank absolutely do not deserve your trust or any of your confidence based on what has happened. Do you have any confidence left? Do you have any confidence in yourself?
I know there are many small subcontractors out there that have been hurt badly by what has happened in our country but what if I say it’s only going to get worse. Does saying this hurt your confidence all the more? It shouldn’t and you have to dig really deep to keep words like that from destroying your confidence any more than you’ve allowed already.
I have to say that I’m really sorry for those contractors and the family members of those companies who have been hurt to the point of bankruptcy. Some are barely getting by, struggling to make ends meet and there is no bail out for these contractors and there won’t be a bail out for any contractors. The reality is that each person impacted by this economy has to dig down really deep and find a way to make it through. Do you have enough confidence left to do that?
What caused the Great Depression of 1929? Out of control credit? By 1933, 11,000 of the 25,000 banks in the United States had failed. Americans stopped spending money. This country’s manufacturing output fell to 54 percent and the unemployment rate leaped between 25 and 30 percent.
The Great Depression of 1929 was caused by weaknesses and imbalances within the economy. The weaknesses were out of control credit as a result of the 1920 boom where most people lived in a state of euphoria because money was flowing like water over Niagara Falls. Sound familiar?
How many of you were teenagers 80 years ago? Most likely none of the people reading this story are old enough to remember the Depression. Did the masses 80 years ago see the Depression coming? No they didn’t, it surprised them just as it surprised our generation.
My grandparents lived through the Depression and my parents were wee children when it hit. Surprisingly my grandparents worked really smart through the terrible years. My namesake, Grandpa Pete and my grandmother helped a lot of people during the Depression. Heck, they were immigrants from Italy. They knew the Depression was bad but it wasn’t as bad as they had it in Italy. They had a different perspective than most people. They had confidence that they would make it through and they helped other people while they went through it.
There are so many people and situations that come up that can really affect a person’s confidence. Has this economy sapped your self-confidence? Did you cause this downturn? Should you have done some things differently or prepared for what was coming? If you really knew it was coming you would have done something. Mr. McDoom really believed it was coming and he did prepare. He could have been wrong just as well as right. His timing happened to be right on, but it could have been way off. How many people do you know who really knew the economy was going to crash and when?
Hindsight is always 20-20. You may tell yourself, “If I would have done so and so, I would not be in this mess.” My dad had a saying and it went like this, “he who dwells in the past robs himself of the future.” That was the best advice he ever gave me along with, “beauty is only skin deep and ugly goes clear to the bone.”
You are where you are and that is where you start. Give yourself a whole week to feel bad about how you messed up and maybe one more week to feel guilty about spending too much money on that house, boat, motorcycle, and two new cars. Really get into feeling bad about yourself, blame yourself, and blame the politicians, the media, Wall Street and your local bank. Get down and dirty and wallow in pity for two weeks and then you have to stop. Two weeks is all you get and then it’s time to start moving forward with all the confidence you can muster.
You’re not alone in this economy just like my Grandpa Pete wasn’t alone during the Depression. The difference was that Grandpa Pete believed in himself and his ability to make something out of himself. You have your own skills and abilities and they worked well for you before the economy turned down. You’ve got two weeks to stop dwelling in the past and move on to the future. Get started, and as you get through this, and you will, help someone else out. W&C