Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 9/25/2008 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure - Taking a Breather

Martha's Big Adventure -- Taking a Breather

By Martha Randolph Carr

Okay, everybody take a long, deep breath and hold it for just a moment. Now let it out really slowly. We've all had our noses pressed up against our computer screens lately watching the news roll out minute-by-minute on the state of the U.S. economy, or what's left of it.

It's had quite a few people experiencing their first panic attack while reassessing the value of every decision they've ever made.

That's understandable if you followed sage advice and invested carefully, setting money aside in a nest egg and still watched it go poof right before your eyes. Or, you invested in real estate, which is something tangible and has always gone up in value, or so they've said for a few generations, and seen the value slide out from under you.

And now the big guys in Washington are saying they might have a really expensive way to fix it all. But we caught that word, might. The flip side to their big shiny new ideas is economic Armageddon, or so they say.

Take another breath and let's add in a little logic to the argument. That's what we've been lacking for quite some time. No need to rehash in detail where it's been lacking other than to mention the one word answers that spell it out these days: war, ecology, mortgages, fuel, debt, securities.

Remember that for the economy to completely collapse like a deck of cards where everyone suffers and no trade moves will require the American public to stop eating, getting dressed and to turn off their TV's. That last one in particular has less of a chance of happening than Cheney writing a tell-all book on his activities in office. Come on, even if you like the guy you know that's never going to happen. He got someone to apologize for getting their face in the way of his gun and he said the vice-president doesn't really answer to anyone. He's taking his secrets with him and we're all going to keep watching far more television and their subsequent commercials.

In other words, consumption is not going to cease and as long as we're all getting on with the new day at hand there will be a need for consumer goods and therefore trade will have to move. The housing market is a part of the dynamic as well.

We will want to go on living in a building instead of out in the open and we will want to move from one location to another for a variety of reasons and down-size or need more rooms and continue to trade spaces with each other.

The difference will be that we probably won't be buying more than we can actually live in for awhile, in other words investment property will not move, and we may cut back on the extras such as vacations or dining out. That means the over-built housing market will lose a lot of money and there will be a lot of reshuffling as what we own comes more in alignment with what we can afford.

Corporate America will continue to turn out goods and services but probably not at the frenetic pace we became used to and apparently thought had to be sustained forever. Prices will adjust downward to match the reality of our spending capabilities without huge amounts of available credit. That's actually good news.

If the market system is allowed to adjust to the new reality of buying based on what we already can afford instead of our habit of incurring debt we will be looking at lower prices for the same goods that make it possible for us to afford to purchase them without putting ourselves into hock. The idea of saving money and living comfortably won't seem like such an oxymoron and all of us will be sleeping better at night.

The gap between where we are and that new spot is the space we're in now. The decisions we make on whether or not to prop up bad debt or slowly let the air out and deal with the consequences will determine if we ever get back to a place where things make sense again. Then, it will be possible to make a decent living, buy a reasonable house and afford a loaf of bread. More adventures to follow.

Martha Randolph Carr's latest book, A Place to Call Home, a memoir about the reemergence of U.S. orphanages is available wherever books are sold. If you'd like Martha to come and speak to your group visit: www.newvoicespeakers.com. Martha's Big Adventure coming soon to World Talk Radio and Voice America. Email Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.

© 2008 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Sales at (805) 969-2829 or email Sales@cagle.com.

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