Monday, April 12, 2010

The change of a generation

The economic crisis which hit the country a year ago has taught us much about the excesses on Wall Street, the excesses by the Consumer in spending money they didn't have and by using credit to buy homes they couldn't afford. We now have an unemployment rate in double digits and the future doesn't show much hope to be optimistic that the unemployment rate will come down any time soon. As a matter of fact, this high unemployment may now be structural and here for many years to come.

The effect of this is obvious in the credit used by Consumers. It has been steadily dropping, as more and more households are forced to cutback on their spending habits just to survive and scaring others to be more mindful about their cash flow. As my survey on the Mini poll to the right of this post shows, people aren't wanting to live outside their means anymore and have an aversion to borrowing money. These new patterns will have a long lasting effect on this generation just like the lean years of the Depression had on the generation that was young at that time. Scarcity became the mindset then and it stayed with that generation for their lifetime. Not as severe, but nonetheless profound, this scarcity mentality will affect this generation for their lives as well.

This effect will create a new generation of entrepreneurs, the likes of which helped build this country after the war. The reason for this is that there are no jobs for people. Many will need to build their own business to survive by looking at what needs people now have and filling that void. It will be Small Businesses again that lead the way forward. The one difference we have in this generation that those who lived through the Depression didn't have, was the polarization of people by the politics of the day. The polarization we have today seems to be more vitriol and aimed at government and race differences, than differences caused by individual poverty.

It seems that those who have, are rebelling against those who have not, as if it is their fault. The victims are getting all the grief now, as if at some level the "Haves" expect what they enjoy now to be taken away from them. This is with a current tax rate for the upper income folks (greater than $1 Million in income) at 29.6%. They all seem to be complaining and have others scared enough to do the screaming for them in the form of Tea Baggers, who interestingly enough have no where near that level of income. It's the Glenn Beck's ($18 Million/year) and Rush Limbaugh ($33 Million/year) types leading the charge as they make 10's of Millions of dollars each year, as well as Sarah Palin who is getting $200,000 per speaking engagement, to rattle everyone into action. Remember though some of the greatest years in this country like the 1950's, we had a 90% tax rate on the wealthy and we seemed to do just fine. Seems like the more they make or have, the more they want today. Just how much is enough?

So getting back to the theme of this post, this generation needs to start to get busy equipping themselves in becoming self sufficient. It is the only way to survive and have some joy in life again. The trick will be figuring out how to do this with limited or scarce resources. That's where coaches can help. If people who have some skills in this area could offer help to those who can't afford to pay for it, it could help quite a bit. Some of us who aren't rich, but have a generous spirit, could consider free assistance for those who are structurally unemployed generate some ideas to change their lives. That help could truly turn some lives around. However, when offering help like this to others, scaleability is very important. Why offer skill help for just one, why not 10 at once or 25 or 60? Think how you can help others, if you were attracted to read this. I certainly will. Most of us don't really think about helping others in this area but many of us have skills critical for survival and eventual prosperity. It's time we think about using those skills for the betterment of society.

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