Monday, January 05, 2009

This Ain't No Barn Dance

Tonight marks the official end of holiday vacation at our house. Unlike most of the kids in our region, mine had today off. In a bid for one last hurrah, my daughter and I headed to the fitness center with her swim gear and my hopes of getting in one workout this week not hemmed in by a kid activity. The place was packed. It's always busy on Mondays, but it was busier than usual, although we were earlier than I usually go by almost an hour.

It looks like everyone is ready to get back on track. I've been ready. Shovel-ready, work-ready, ready to be back on the track to figuring out and achieving my potential and ready to see something happen, to see something good finally happen. Looks like I'm not alone.

I didn't really make any resolutions this year because my aspirations for the next three months are pretty thin. My first goal is simply to not miss a mortgage payment. Beyond that I will have considered the year a success, and once again I doubt I'm alone. Now, I've gotten a little more ambitious, a little antsy, pissed off enough about being back near the bottom of the rung despite how good I am at what I do, that I am actually going to bring in a bit of business myself. Maybe I'll make enough to employ people to put new floor covering in my house and clean my home before the holidays. If I can't imagine such extraordinary good fortune, it won't happen. It would be an honor to take what I make and put some of it into someone else's bucket for a hard day's work.

So this ain't no barn dance. It's business, the business of people and the business of getting folks to part with their money for the work I and others do so extremely well so that they don't have to do a half-assed job and end up calling us anyway.

I hope you're rested and ready for the new year. Blueberry made an excellent point in her last comment. There's really nothing wrong with having to turn business away. Here's hoping we all should have such a problem this year.

Enjoy this long instrumental from one of my favorite bands, Mountain Heart, a bunch of talented guys who take themselves just seriously enough to be hyper-successful considering the business they're in. They're good, too, not for everybody, but they're trying to find their voice. And when that Jim VanCleve is fiddling and Barry Abernathy is doing his banjo thing, it's just amazing. One of my favorite show-offs, Adam Steffey, left the band last year to hook up with Dan Tyminski's gig, but he's here on this track called #6 Barn Dance. It will get you moving, guaranteed.

Now I'm going to get moving, to bed. Tomorrow we are back on our regular temporary routine; my son will head off to school at 6:15 and it will be another two hours plus before his sister and I head out. The extra time in the morning with her is nice, but it's a mixed blessing brought on by my simple protest: latchkey care is a work-related expense, so I've cut out the morning care to save money. Make it worth my while to pay someone else for the privelege of hanging out with her that extra five hours a week, and I will. But not before. This is kind of the soundtrack to that attitude.

#6 Barn Dance


At January 07, 2009 1:07 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Good luck with the modest goals you've set thus far this year Mando. We'll all be lucky if we can keep paying mortgages. Yesterday I got my year-end statement from one of my retirement accounts. Half the money I had at the end of 2007 is just gone. Half. Gone.

There's nothing I can do about it. Even it I fully recover it this year (unlikely), I'm still in the whole because, theoretically, I should have had twice as much money earning interest for me this year. It's really pathetic and depressing.

If you don't save, you're anxious because you have no money. If you do save, you're anxious because you're losing it all to circumstances beyond your control. It would be one thing if all I lost was profit. At least then it's only paper money. But the losses have been so staggering this past year that people have not only lost their dividends but also the actual W2 wages they earned and put into these accounts. Very depressing.

At January 08, 2009 2:29 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

I hear you, Doc. This week the kids' UTMA statements came in. I have enough trouble saving as it is, but at this rate, Lord help Son of Mando if he doesn't keep his grades up.

There was a fantastic article on Newsweek earlier this week about the savings crisis. A main reason the economy still isn't moving is that all of a sudden, consumers understand why they shouldn't spend all their money. A few years ago, the savings rate in the US was ZERO. Z-RO. Now that a great many of Americans don't have jobs, they also have no savings to keep them afloat, and those that have any are not spending so that they can ride out the recession. Folks that did save in good times, as you did, have lost any ground. It's just a big mess all around.

I will say I'm more motivated than I have been in years, though, and paying more attention than ever with regard to understanding the economy. Every wage earner should be doing this. At the end of the day it's about taking care of yourself and your family, and I feel like I really shorted us by not knowing more and maybe not being more aggressive. At least most of us have wage-earning years ahead of us. The folks who already have retired and were counting on those savings to survive, and the children who are caught in the foreclosure and job loss web -- these are the saddest victims of what's going on.

At January 09, 2009 10:05 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Good points all. Though I take no solace in having many wage earning years left. That's because I believe this is not a blip but instead a fundamental restructuring of the American economy. I think we've been living too high for too long. And I don't just mean people living beyond their means. I mean that even those of us living within our means probably make more money than the U.S. economy will be able to support in the future.

When the U.S. was more insulated from the rest of the world, we could raise our standard of living in isolation, which we did. Not the world is a much smaller place. Our domestic companies simply cannot compete with foreign companies who pay lower wages because the standard of living is low in those countries. I think there was some hope that American investment and purchases would raise up the standards in other countries. However, I fear the reality is that those competitors are simply going to drag ours down. Americans are unwilling to spend more for products so foreign goods are appealing. That cuts our legs out from under us.

I think we're in for a contraction of the economy from which we will never recover. Because recovery suggests illness. I don't think our economy is ill. I think it is just being forced in line with the economies of competitor countries. This will be a cold, hard shock to Americans.


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