Monday, February 16, 2009

One Port in a Storm

Where do we run in a crisis?

Home, of course. Under fire, people fall back on beliefs they have long held, and that's exactly what they're doing in this economic crisis.

The same people who cried out for lower taxes three, five, and ten years ago say that's exactly what what we need now. And the same people who have long demanded more government entitlement programs say that's just what we need today.

They may or may not be good ideas in themselves, but that doesn't make them the right medicine for the current problem. There's a strong tendency to use a crisis in support of an agenda. As Mark Twain noted, 'To a man with a hammer, everything looks a nail.'

We're far more likely to get out of this mess if we focus on the actual, live problem in front of us, the collapse of consumer confidence and the resulting jobs lost.

We may never agree on who caused the crisis - subprime lenders? eager homeowners? profligate consumers?  greedy bankers?- but we'll know it's behind us once consumers buy without fear, allowing businesses to add the jobs that provide all goods and services.

That should be our aim, breaking the cycle of fearful retreat. From there we can move forward, toward whatever agenda we please.

Next Monday's post will be on Making Sense of Really Big Numbers.

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