Thursday, January 8, 2009

The "R" Word

Dubbed by New York Magazine as the word to drop at a party this holiday season when in doubt of what to say, there is no doubt that recession is on the tip of everyone's collective tongue. I would argue that it is only to be challenged by the word economy which has similarly sad connotations at the moment. Christina mentioned that yesterday as she walked through Wicker Park she couldn't help but notice that the economy seems to be taking its toll on the typically bustling neighborhood. Each store with a sale sign in its window and many of the shelves stocked less fully than just a small number of months ago.

I want to start by saying that what bothers me the most are those who I know that have lost jobs. I think that must be a terrible place to be, as displayed in the semi desperate email request I received yesterday from a past acquaintance inquiring if anyone knew anything about any possibilities. In the past I would have past her email along to friends with just a general shotout, but the problem is that I know others who are in the same position who are closer to me who I would like to help out first and even more problematic is that I don't know of any options for help. I haven't heard of a single person hiring for anything and I don't imagine that is going to change in the not so distant future.

Which brings me to the thought that unemployment is typically a bigger deal than just general income, it results in lack of health insurance. This in my mind, should not be a possibility. One friend who is unemployed has been using Cobra only to see the cost exceed $400 for the month. So overall, I feel most frustrated by this part of the "R" word. People are struggling, and aside from no income they are not able to take care of their health properly.

I heard a report on NPR the other day where a gentleman was outlining the gloom and doom of the "financial meltdown" only to have the reporter ask at the end if he could provide some sort of silver lining with regards to the situation. The analyst said "Well, even in times of recession, America is a wealthy country. For the most part, we will not truly struggle."

Now of course this doesn't speak to those who are truly poor to begin with in this country, but for the many like me, this rings true. Fiscal responsibility is something that I've been on a sort of quest for if not merely to alleviate stress in my life. Financial stress is something I am fortunate enough to be able to control, so I'm working to do that and I have to think that the looming "R" word is cause many of us to think twice before we spend and I can't imagine this to be a bad thing. Spending less makes my spending more valuable, if that makes sense.

Speaking of recession, check this fancy profile of my friend Tina (who my iPhone switches to Tuna) who we call "The most famous unemployed person in Chicago." Let's hope this lead to something big for her!

And two quick thoughts about this:

I realize he is probably much shorter than he was at one point in his life, but I had no idea Jimmy Carter was so short! Also, I imagine the conversation about what shade of red or blue tie each Prez would wear would be quite a humorous one to hear. If Barack is really for change, I encourage him to step out in a purple tie. Do it, Mr. Prez. I dare you.

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