Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Crisis? What Crisis?

The Economy, The New Prez, and the Sinking Ship.

Those of you who remember the 70's as fondly as I do no doubt remember Supertramp's now classic album, "Crisis? What Crisis" -- if not for the incredible songs, then for the imaginative cover artwork.

For those of you unable to view the provided image, the cover shows a young man lounging in a beach chair, with small table nearby (complete with drinks) and a bright yellow umbrella which shields him from the view of pollution and utter desolation behind him. But enough music history. This isn't about music.

I've been watching the Senate this week as they bicker like small children over how to spend something like 800 billion dollars of taxpayer money that doesn't even exist yet. One side wants more tax cuts, the other side wants more public services and bailout relief. As usual, the division runs cleanly down partisan lines. And as Rome burns, the fiddler plays on. But enough politics. This isn't about that either.

I'm sure I don't need to convince most of you that the crisis is real. For the disabled among us who depend on public services for things like shelter, food and transportation, the "economic downturn" is affecting us in a very real and measurable way. At the very time in our nation's history when the need for these services is greatest, their availability is decreasing due to a lack of funds. Clearly, if change is coming, it had better come soon. President Obama seems to get that. Good man.

My parents were alive during the Great Depression, as I'm sure many of yours were. They learned, the hard way, that at some point it's no longer "every man for himself" but rather, "we're all in this together." That's how one survives hard times, and I hope it's a lesson our Congress learns soon. The boat has a hole in it, Congressmen, and the time for blaming each other for the rising water is long past. If we all don't start bailing, we'd better hope we all know how to swim. Those sharks look hungry.

But I said this wasn't going turn political, didn't I? Sorry.

So what lessons can we learn from the Great Depression? For one, such things can be survived. Our parents did it, and so can we. As many social service agencies are now joining forces to share resources, so can we. Start conserving everything. Consolidate trips. Shop smarter. Use coupons. Buy in bulk if that's feasible for you. Wear a sweater. Network with each other. Odds are good that you're already doing many of these things, but think hard and act harder. Don't be afraid to get creative. This too shall pass, but until it does we have to do everything we can to help ourselves. The Government will get around to us eventually...

Oh dang it. I give up. So it's turned political after all. Wanna do something to help? Call your representatives in Congress. Tell them your story. Don't whine, and don't scream... just tell them your story. Then tell them that sooner or later, elections will roll around again. Remind them, gently, that hungry voters tend to not be quite so pleasant at the polls. Tell them to shut up, and start bailing. The "stimulus bill" may not be perfect, but doing something is better than doing nothing.

The Crisis is here. It's time to act.

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