What Are we Waiting For?

by francine Hardaway on February 3, 2009

Several months back, the economy ground to a halt while people waited to see who the next president would be. The election of Barack Obama was indeed inspiring, and for two days we were filled with hope.

Then we stood around with our thumbs in our mouths while we waited for the Inauguration. It, too, was inspiring, and we were all filled with hope. For one day.

Now we are all standing around waiting to see what the fallout or affect will be of the stimulus package. And the hope is gone as the bickering about how and what to do begins. Obama has bought the economy by running for office, and now he is thinking of spending more to stimulate it than we spent in Iraq. “Morning Joe” always reminds me of how disappointed we can really be in our government. After all, it’s only made up of people.

If that doesn’t teach us personal responsibility, nothing will. It is time to stop waiting. The government is not a big daddy that is going to bail us out — in fact I hate even to see that term used as though it could really work. No bailout is possible, either fiscally or politically. It is dangerous to expect that, because it leaves us open to demagoguery.The sooner we recognize that the better.

At best, we can use this time to build a new power grid and automate the health care system. At worst, tax cuts will cause a momentary lift in the economy as everyone races out to buy what they need most and is then tapped out again. But neither alternative — and not even the best combination of both — will solve the problem for you or me.

I never paid much attention to the history of the Great Depression, because it sounded like such a downer. Now, as all the pundits demonstrate their knowledge of history, I’m most impressed by how LONG the Great Depression was. How long it lasted. How FDR, in 1938, admitted that the New Deal wasn’t working. How only deciding to enter World War II really got us out of it.

But during the Great Depression, businesses were started and people kept on living. This state of permanent hold, wringing our hands and waiting for something to be done, is worse than any of the decisions being debated. Fact: there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Do something, even if it’s wrong. Do you want to sit through an entire decade doing nothing?

If you have been laid off, or your business has failed, you can sit around and wait for somebody to help you, or you can start something new. Optimism is contagious, and innovation attracts others.

I’ve decided, at my age, that I have demonstrated my survival skills, having delivered a great lifestyle for myself and my children, foster children, and extended friends and family for many years. So I’m going to do it again. I’m going to hold some Boot Camps for people to show them how to start businesses — not necessarily the kind that get outside financing, but the kind that create a new economy (which may be based on currencies other than money). This will not be “consulting.” This will be assembling groups of people with the power to help each other find fulfillment by working together toward a common goal. It will be the unexpected joy of the pick-up team or the jam session.

Stay tuned. I think I’ve got a partner, and I think I’ve got a place. Now I just have to find some good dates and I will be off and running. I will start in Phoenix, because we’re the worst off, but I am going to take this show on the road as soon as I know it’s ready for prime time.

In this economy, we are all responsible for each other. I am ready.

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Francine Hardaway’s Blog « Ginger Kenney
February 4, 2009 at 4:17 am
A New Kind of Boot Camp « Ginger Kenney
February 4, 2009 at 4:31 am
Another moment of optimism « Recession, Real Estate, and Rethinking Retirement
February 7, 2009 at 6:06 am

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jarrod Erpelding February 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Well said on all points… and I think the time is ripe for some small business start ups, especially as solar and wind energy grow. Solar installers and even windmill installers/set up doesn’t take a PhD, but some basic skills and some business savvy. This is why I’m hoping whatever “stimulus” results, that it includes something that might actually create an opportunity for people… I think that creating an atmosphere where solar technology can grow could do just that!

francinehardaway February 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I went to EUEC yesterday and all the utility companies are getting into solar as part of the renewable energy package being demanded by consumers. It was interesting to see them reaching out for technical expertise. And a number of solar companies are doing really well.

HWL February 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Francine is spot on. I was on the leading edge of the economic downturn. My former employer saw the wave coming and took early proactive action (layoffs). Unfortunately, my high salary was among the first go simply for cost cutting. Since February 2008, I’ve been out of “work”. However that has not deterred me. Sadly, there are no suitable “jobs” out there for me. Probably because I’m living in a false reality that my value to an organization was at one time worth X dollars and today is worth Y (i.e. less dollars).

Like everyone else I too was guilty of living to my means, so the Y dollars were not too appealing. Therefore, I have decided to become, to quote Seinfeld, “Master of my own domain”. I have started a business, albeit a low tech one, yet one that should thrive in this economy and beyond and the results – so far, so good. We as a nation, can’t sit around and wait for governmental intervention. We have to have a pull ourselves up by the bootstraps mentality. There has never been a better time to take a chance on yourself or your dream. After all, you can’t fall very far from here.

Valto February 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Really great and inspirational post. I cheer for your effort and example that you are showing to others! – thank you for this.

Ian Kallen February 3, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Great post, Francine. A general observation: when the herd is running to the precipice, the survivors run laterally and then turn around. Let me know when you bring the show to the Bay Area.

Emily Emmer February 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Everyone agrees with you that it’s all up to new ways of thinking, living, and doing business and that innovation will save us! Supporting innovators is the core goal of my company (bulbstorm.com) and we are continually inspired by how much ingenuity is amongst us and by the plethora of great ideas that come from everyday people willing to find a solution and share it. We as a people have ideas, hope, and a very bright future as we each do our part!

francinehardaway February 4, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Emily, everyone SAYS they agree with me. But how much real support is there for innovation? From, let’s just say, banks????? People are giving lip service to innovation.

Web Pixie February 5, 2009 at 6:45 am

This post seems to answer most of the questions I had to discuss with you on the phone last week! While the operative word here might be “most,” instead of “all,” it’s reassuring to know there is someone out there who’s on the same wavelength.

Great post, Francine. Time to talk more will come when the time is right.

Joe Knapp February 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm

The economic expansion from 1933-1937 was the longest in US history up to that point. So much for the New Deal not working. In 1937 everyone was declaring it a success and calling for a return to a balanced budget and less spending. This was done, and caused the 1938 recession. After that, spending resumed and so did the recovery. It was a momentary relapse into fiscal conservatism that caused the problem in 1938. WWII spending and deficits just underscored the point that government spending, even on unproductive armaments, is an antidote to recession.

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