Thanks Social. Those really illustrate a huge part of what's wrong with our economy. Unless some things change, I can only see it getting worse.
And thanks to everybody else. I was a little shocked at the amount of applause, but it would certainly seem like I'm not alone in my opinions and that quite a few of us are feeling the crunch...
It seems that with wall street taking a hammering, even with
the astronomically high loans that have been given out, we're in for a very bumpy ride and we're not going to see the end for quite a while.
Prepare yourself. Beyond this point is a rather disjointed and rambling rant about changing domestic policy, corporate mindset, and personal lifestyle that was put together by a guy with a pounding sinus headache and penchant for using too many words. You have been warned.
What can we do about it? A couple things. As far as advocacy I would say that the best way to fix it is to begin a grass roots campaign to only buy from companies that refuse to follow the herd of cheaper labor. Companies live and breath because we buy their products. Get enough people behind a boycott and you're looking at a VERY large hole in some major corporations' pockets. We stop buying their goods and make enough noise about why, and it'll get noticed.
Is there a company you know of that refuses to budge? They're staying put no matter what? A fixture in the local community and important to the economy? Buy from them. Tell your friends and family. Post about it on the internet. Get word to state legislators, senators and congressional reps to push for incentives for these companies. Tax discounts, subsidized production, better interest rates on loans to promote growth. These can even be from banking institutions that the Fed has bailed out! And of course tying in my soapbox from before, while we're pushing for all this support, we might as well add the green incentive. I really think it's going to happen all on it's on as so many companies are realizing how much money can be saved by going green, but there's no reason we can't help that along.
Something very easy to do is to say thank you. You can write letters to the companies in question thanking them for their commitment to the community. I get these kinds of letters ever once in a while and it fills me with a warm glow for most of the day. More importantly, I pass these on to corporate management with a note about how much the community loves that we're keeping a presence stateside, no matter how cheap it might be to relocate elsewhere.
On a personal level, we have some hard decisions to make. And some of this is going to make me sound like a member of the tinfoil hat brigade, but bear with me.
The road ahead is going to be rocky and we need to be prepared. Will it be as bad as the crash of 1929? I'm not an economist. I just watch cnn and msnbc all day. I'm getting a lot of mixed signals. My hope is that no, it won't be that bad. Should we prepare as if it will be? Heck yes! Prepare for the worst. Prepare for it now. You don't start putting up the plywood when a category 4 storm has already flooded the streets. It should have been up last Wednesday and you should have been long out of town. Better yet, what are you doing living in the path of a hurricane? If you can sidestep the disaster, do it.
If I know anything about the Great Depression is that food and everyday luxury goods were scarce. Start a stockpile. Don't go out and spends wads of cash. Who has that kind of money? Spend a little bit at a time. Build your supplies slowly and rationally. Do you have a Costco, Sam's Club, or BJ's around? Go there. If not, go to your local dry goods store and buy things like canned food and toilet paper. I'm not kidding. Toilet paper. Anybody who's been in the service (or prison) will tell you that it's worth its weight in gold. Paper towels may be the better bang for your buck though. Multi purpose and all.
Seriously, a list of things you'll want to stock up on or start considering:
Canned food - creamed corn, carrots, yams, green beans, tuna, chicken
Flour, Sugar, and Salt - learn how to make bread or flat breads ( you might not have eggs or yeast)
Grow a vegetable garden. Every family in the US had a 'victory garden' during WW2. Those gardens grew 40% of our nationally consumed food in 1942 and 43.
Everybody can do it. http://www.urbangardeninghelp.com/
Follow that link. It's got some good info on how to grow things in the city.
You'll need canning jars to preserve your home grown vegetables or possibly plastic food bags - these are reusable. You just need soapy water to clean them. Remember that bags requires a freezer and freezers use energy. Home canned foods just need space.
Start putting money away for a rainy day. It doesn't have to be a lot. Every little bit adds up. Five or ten dollars a paycheck turns into hundreds of dollars after only a year.
Create a budget. Add up all your bills for the month and then subtract that from what you make. If you end up in the negative, that means you're spending more than you can afford. Plan your meals for the week and shop accordingly. Stick to that list. Eat leftovers at work. Eat oatmeal for breakfast. It tastes good, it's healthy, and it's affordable. Pay off your credit cards and cancel them. Think you can't? Think again. depending on the level of debt, you can actually take out a personal loan for a better interest rate than what you've got on all your cards. That loan can cover everything you owe on these cards and actually have a smaller monthly payment than what you were trying to do to cut down your credit card balance. Find out the payoff amount and take care of it. Cancel them immediately after and don't apply for another card. Pay your loan on time. Better yet, have direct deposit to your bank account and have them take the payments right from your acct. At my bank, that's good for a quarter of a percent off the interest rate.
After that? Only buy things you can pay for with cash in hand. You know your grocery bill. Only take out what you need to get your groceries. Shop in bulk if possible. Those stores I mentioned earlier? Costco, Sam's, and BJ's? All good bargains. Dry goods stores? Who cares if you're not eating name brand? 9 times out of 10, the food is identical and costs far less. Maybe get involved in a co-op for meat and vegetables.
I wasn't kidding about toilet paper. Toothpaste. Toothbrushes. Deodorant, Soap, Bodywash. All these things we don't think about on a daily basis will become quite scarce in the event of a world financial crash.
I'm not telling you to horde. Don't go renovating that bomb shelter your grandparents built in 1955 because the Reds were coming. Just make up a small stockpile of things you use everyday and keep them stored away someplace where you'll forget about them till you need them.
Honestly, with the exception of the emergency food supply, everything here is a good way to cut costs and improve quality of life. I have more to say on this subject, but I'm running short of time and quite honestly my head is killing me. I think I'm going to just have to start doing semi-regular updates or actually start putting something in my blog.
Blessed Be. I'm gonna go go home now.