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What About This?

By Wayne William Cipriano

By the time this is printed I imagine that another fiscal stimulus bill has been passed and the loss of that $600/week addition to whatever unemployment compensation checks some were getting has been somewhat rectified.

I understand the position of some that hold a person who makes more money staying home will do so rather than go to work.  I understand the position of some who say many workers who are collecting a very meager check during these unemployment times, now reduced by $600, are in dire straits and may have no job to return to.

I understand the position of some who say we are developing a national debt by all this stimulus spending that begins to look unrepayable.  I understand what some say about stimulus spending being high velocity and that money is an immediate benefit to everyone as the funds go from hand to hand to hand.

I understand how difficult borrowing will be for our government when our indebtedness is of such size that only interest payments on it will be possible.

I understand how high-paying jobs in manufacturing and even product design jobs are going to locales that can propose and produce these products for far lower costs.

I understand how creeping, sometimes full race automation is replacing some of those service jobs we seem to be depending on so much (think self-driving long distance trucking, for example).

I don’t understand how the stock market can be rising just about everyday. I don’t understand how personal/family credit debt has been going down recently.  I don’t understand how the savings rate in America, usually less than 4% has risen to almost 20% unless lots of people have “learned their lessons.”

Is our economy “on life support” as I heard the other night, or are we doing “much better than being reported” as I heard just a few minutes later?

And how can that be?

If inflation is at historic lows, how can prices be going up all the time?

If banks borrow from the Federal Reserve for literally no interest at all, how can they charge so much for loans and pay us nothing for our savings?  And why does anyone borrow under these conditions?

There must be some very serious stuff that I am not getting, economic information that is escaping my grasp and would explain a lot of this.

Are we doing really, really badly?  Just doing poorly?  Breaking even?  Are we in much better shape than we know?  How can that be?

This is a very good time to be self-supporting, retired, rich, or a hermit, where the day-to-day stuff doesn’t impact us as much as if we have a job that may not be as permanent as we might hope, kids in school looking for advice and examples as to how they might prepare for their future, and a future ahead of us that seems less secure than it used to look.

I suppose that if I take care of that little bit of life that is my family and not pay so much attention to what I see going around me, I’ll be all the better for it.  But how can I make plans for the future – for next week or next month, or five and ten years down the line – if I don’t know what’s going on?  But then, who really knows what is going on?

It would be great to end this piece with an uplifting homily and I’ll try to do that by relating what is going on when I look over the back deck and see the beautiful forest, the reflected sunlight, the sleeping cat and do not look at the television news.  I’ll listen to the breeze blowing by and the blackbirds chattering, the hummingbirds whirring, and not the radio reports.  I’ll read To Kill A Mockingbird once again and not the political blurbs in the mail.

Mostly, I’ll think about how fabulously lucky I am to be who I am, where I am, and with whom I am.  When you start thinking like that, all this other stuff takes its proper position, way back there, somewhere.

Way back.