One podcast I always make time for is Dan Carlin's Common Sense. Sometimes I vehemently agree with Carlin and sometimes I want to yell at him while jumping up and down, redfaced. But in either case, he is always smart and always worthy of his audience. He offers a different point of view.
I was listening to show 143 "Black Dog" over the weekend. He opened with a monologue on why his optimism has failed him, that the country's future is dismal and that he just had nothing to offer otherwise.
Mr. Carlin, I have optimism.
Between the plummeting Dow and the skyrocketing unemployment rate, there's something that's easy to forget: Our greatest resource and strength is the American people.
No, I am not about to start waving the flag. Instead, I'll offer up a recent example. When gas prices soared to four dollars a gallon, Americans tightened their belts at the pump. A lot. We started driving some 10 billion miles less a month. Ten billion!
And gas prices responded. I don't know what portion of the total fall in the price of a barrel is relative to decreased consumption, but remember when it fell about 30 cents last summer? We did that--you and me; and the move to conserve looks like it's sticking. When Americans do something smart in the face of rough waters, it restores my belief in them.
With shrinking job markets and pocketbooks, everyone will need to conserve and they will, just like they did with the gas. I might be a liberal, but I'm very conservative when it comes to conservation. I conserve energy and water and space and time. I have deep respect for my every resource. Hence, I won't miss the have-to-have-it-all-right-now attitude that's prevailed from coast to coast for decades.
Sacrifices? Maybe people will dine out less and eat ham sandwiches at the kitchen table more (put a couple of potato chips right on the sandwich between the mayo and lettuce--kicks total ass). Maybe the fabulous resort vacations will turn into roadtrips to state parks or stay-at-home celebrations where the focus is on fun. Maybe we won't be able to afford those elaborate personal electronics and we'll start talking again. Instead of scattering across the land in search of bigger, better, and more, maybe families who've fallen on hard luck will band together and help each other. Maybe this toxic bubble of greed will pop along with all the other bubbles.
When it does, we'll come out on the other side smarter and tougher. We'll be wise to the fact that the phrase "I want better for my kids than I had" does not mean a bigger house or salary, but a better quality of life wherein one's time is spent not only with people they love, but working a craft in which they take pride. I believe the American people are going to make it through the next couple of dark years and emerge with the sort of values that will make us true and gentle giants.
President Obama believes in the American People too. He believes in all of us, red or blue or any color in between. His belief is powerful enough to diminish the deep-rooted fear swirling around him. Why look here, it's already started.