I’m not a numbers guy; I’m a words guy.
So to try and decipher all the gloom and doom emanating from the financial crisis around the world is a little too much for me. But as in most cases involving world economic affairs, I find the simplest way to understand things is to measure it against my own day-to-day life.
After all when economists talk in billions and trillions of dollars, the figures, as staggering as they are, get lost in the sea of debt.
Tell me I’m $1,000 overdrawn on my bank account and that hits home really quick.
Telling me there’s a need to bail out banks, where CEOs are making millions in bonuses and clients have lost their life savings, doesn’t register as fair with me.
Tell me the CEOs have waived their bonuses and banks cut their surcharges in order to help their struggling clients, now there’s something I can understand.
Tell me that the U.S.’s credit rating has been “slashed” from AAA to AA+ and that doesn’t sound that bad.
Tell me people are still out of work and losing their homes then there is concern.
I still don’t understand how Canadians rejoice when our dollar rises but Americans moan when their dollar climbs.
Perhaps there are just too many “experts” talking and not enough working. Meanwhile the rest of us in the working class bob along in the sea of uncertainty floating in whatever direction the current takes us.
Every expert says we have to cut down on household debt, but when ordinary citizens do, the economic mess keeps growing.
Then they tell us we should spend more to stimulate the economy, while at the same time telling us we have to save our money for retirement.
It’s enough to make Scrooge McDuck become a loonie – and not the money version.
I’ve lost faith in the American political system to right its ship because politics in the U.S. has become more about who can shout the loudest rather than who can provide the best answers.
In Canada, the Harper government has created such a shroud of secrecy that few of us have a true idea of what’s happening until it’s too late.
After all on Sunday Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who was attending another overblown, too-expensive summit meeting of the world’s elite, said he’s confident the world will get its house in order and continue financial stability.
How sad that world leaders call an emergency meeting when money is involved but have barely batted an eye over the terrible famine claiming lives in Africa.
Flaherty’s great foresight took a hit less than 24 hours after his “stability” comment when the stock market stumbled out of the gate on Monday.
Tuesday it bounced back. Go figure.
If the world’s finances were our household budgets, it wouldn’t take long to figure out what our income is and what our expenses are.
We do it on a daily, weekly and monthly basis so it’s puzzling that educated people, elected by citizens, with a huge staff of civil servants have such a hard time figuring this out.
Most of us realize if our bills are more than our income then something has to change really quickly.
There are no bailouts for Mom and Dad.
Unlike governments who have the power to raise taxes to bring in more money, most people don’t have the luxury of finding a higher-paying job or have the energy to take on a second job.
So I guess the first move is cutting back on expenses – one car, one phone, cook at home and spend less.
It’s easier said than done because our society has become addicted to consuming.
Do kids really need an iPod, cell phone, TV, computer in their room, the latest fashions and a car for graduation?
Does everyone need a “break” from winter by going on a Mexican vacation or “break” from stress by going a shopping spree whether they can afford it or not?
Do we all need the fastest Internet, 500 TV channels and the newest washer and dryer to make our lives better?
Perhaps being realistic about our own financial situation might lessen the desire to keep up with the Jones at every turn.
Extrapolate that on an international level and world leaders should understand that the first step in getting your house in order is to set an example for your citizens.
Show us you’re trying, not just by arbitrarily cutting services to people who need them, but also by tightening your own belt.
I’m waiting for a politician to step up and say, “since our citizens are living on less and their pensions taking a hit, I’m cutting my expenses and salary until things improve.”
They could forego their chauffeured lifestyle, free travel and generous expense accounts and spend some of their own money they’re supposed to be earning for solving the economic mess.
Of course as soon as that happens a flock of pigs will fly in formation over Parliament Hill and Hell will officially open up a ski hill.