Wednesday, April 1, 2009

It's the Economy, Stupid...

So goes the famous saying on James Carville's white board in the 1990s. That could be the answer to a lot of questions these days as well. It's made us rethink a lot of our habits and patterns in all areas of our lives. I am definitely guilty of it; anyone who knows me knows of my obsession and conspicuous consumption of kitchen tools. I actually spent part of this afternoon's lunch explaining to my coworker how to use a grapefruit sectioner. To which our administrative assistant replied, "I just use a knife." 

Fair enough.

But I also have caught myself examining my habits as well. Knocking on any and all available wood, I have not (yet) been affected by the economy, so when I get the mail every day and see another letter from a charitable organization, I remind myself I do not, in fact, need a (insert latest-gadget-from-Williams-Sonoma-I'm-drooling-over here) and could instead send $10 to the MSPCA or Save the Children. The one thing I do wish they would stop doing is sending me address labels. Oh, March of Dimes, you want to offer me free address labels? Thanks, but the World Wildlife Fund, the Mass. State Troopers and the Red Cross beat you to it...

The stories I found today revolve around people who share my mind-set of remembering others before spending on myself. I am personally of the opinion that this is the silver lining to this current crisis. The Duluth News-Tribune highlights local restaurant owners who, working together with the community, sponsor once-a-week free lunches for veterans from a local rest home. The gratitude the husband and wife ownership feel for the veterans' sacrifices really come through in the interview.

The Toledo Blade appears to be doing a series on how local people are coping with the economy. This installment concerns a retired couple who are helping their less fortunate neighbors wherever they can since they themselves have not yet suffered a massive loss in the stock market. 

A volunteer writes a first-hand account in of a man she helped as he turned his life around after serving a prison term. The story, based out of a tent city in the outskirts of Seattle, reminds you that it is possible to turn things around with some hard work. 

The last story isn't strictly people reviewing habits, but I thought it was a nice little roundup. The Columbia County News-Times published a list of local good news and accomplishments. Maybe it's because I'm from a small town and I grew up in economic prosperity, so these types of things actually were news back then, but I really enjoyed just reading about all the little things the county appreciated.

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