Monday, August 3, 2009

Fix it? Now I am Really Confused.

I was reading recently about how the various futuristic pundits see how our current economic challenges will be evolving in the months a years to come. Many of these "knowledgeable" folks see the economic contraction we have been experiencing over the past year or so, continuing for at least a while longer. In addition, similar to a post of mine a few months ago, the ongoing promise that at some point in the not-too-distant future, things will "bottom out" and we will be back on the road to financial abundance. I just do not see much real evidence of this at this point in our collective journey.

I am starting to realize that many Americans are being shown a very powerful and perhaps life changing picture right now. For the vast majority of us we have only known the limitless abundance of a consumer culture, and we were convinced it would never need to slow down. But now it appears that the piper is calling and we are loathe to hear what he has to say. I read almost everyday that the economy is gaining strength and we are headed for a rebound. The fact that some Banks are showing profit is ludicrous to highlight since we recently gave them ten's of billions of dollars. And in case no one has noticed they have not been dolling it out very swiftly. It has to make their balance sheet look better!

So if all this economic activity is not filtering itself down to the common folk, what are we to expect? Well, I think it will be fair to say that we can expect to consume less in the years to come. We need some time to start paying off our debt and learning the joys of saving money for a change.

I predict that in the future,when that lawn mover, or drill, or God forbid the DVD player start acting up, instead of just tossing it away, we just might revert to that ancient tactic of fixing it. Huh? I realize this may make no sense to many of you so let me try to explain.

Not all that long ago say in the early 60's, I can clearly remember hanging out with my Dad in the garage which doubled as his personal workshop. We would spend hour after hour with one another while he worked on stuff. I also remember that a significant amount of his effort went into fixing things. In simplest terms it means that when some household or recreational item stopped working as planned, he would take it into his workshop, get out his bright lights and special glasses that made everything look really big, and actually take the object apart and try to see what was the problem. It was truly fascinating and I often emulated him by taking many of my toys apart just to see what was inside.

I remember vividly taking going with my Dad and a shoebox full of glass "tubes" down to the electronics store and plugging them into the tube tester. The ones that register BAD were replaced by new versions. Then we would drive back home, put them all back into their respective sockets, flip the switch, and watch the radio or TV or tape player come back to life. It was almost magical!

The coming years are going to give us the chance, if we take it, to learn both how to fix things as well as make more and more things that can be fixed. Since there is no way we can spend our way out of our predicament, I suspect we will be forced to re-learn how to make things that last and when necessary, fix them when they break.

And maybe, just maybe, we will get to spend a bit more time with one another around the workbench instead of blissed out in front of the 52 inch HD plasma screen that virtually no one knows how to fix.

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