Friday, November 20, 2009

New Global Economy

I know that up until this point, this has not been an economics blog, and venturing into that field might not be what my readers want, but it seems like I end up talking to people about economics almost every day. So I’m tempted to bring the debate online.

I’ll start by grounding myself. I was raised in an upper middle class family, I have multiple college degrees (anthropology and engineering), and both my husband and I are currently employed as engineers. I’m kind of a snob, and its easy for me to think – I want a beach house, I want a yatch, I want, I want, I want. So then I think about possibly making less money and I have to frown.

To make matters even worse, the company that my husband works for recently announced their plan to move all their manufacturing facilities to China. Design work will still be done in the US, and currently my husband’s job appears secure. But when 80% of the companies US employese are laid off, it is hard to take comfort in that security. So I understand the reality of the rising unemployment rate, and I personally know multiple people with Ivy League educations whose jobs are being outsourced.

But then there is another part of me that says, stop acting like such a snob. This isn’t only a problem that I face. It is a problem that all American’s are facing. We are a country full of spoiled brats. There are certain things that are basic needs – food, clean drinking water, basic shelter. Many people in the world are currently living without these things. And out sourcing is bring much needed jobs and capital to the developing world and will as a result greatly increase the quality of many human’s lives.

Cable TV on the other hand is not a basic human need. And owning a yatch is certainly not required for servival. Maybe if we as American’s stopped feeling entitled to all of the things that 95% of the world population would never even dream of, we will be happier living in this new global economy.

Even though I was raised deep in the trenches of the upper middle class, I have had the opertunity to meet several people that refer to themselves as idependently poor. These people have always made money somehow, working as artists, doing odd jobs, and repairing and reselling damaged goods. These people might not have hundereds of thousands of dollars tucked away in their 401K’s, but that just means that they didn’t feel as much pain when the stock market popped. But for the most part I would say that all the independently poor people that I know are far happier than the people who own multiple pieces of vaccation property that they never have time to visit.

I never want to go without food or water, and I tend to get cold easily so having shelter would be nice too. But I’m already happily living without cable TV. If my husbands job is outsorced, we will be able to servive on my income until he finds something else. And while we are both employed, we need to remember to invest our money wisely so that we will have both the security to live through a rainy day, and the flexibility to eventually stop working. And we don’t need to go buy a yatch.

I do want a beach house and a yatch, because I’m sure at some level I will always be a snob. But I also want the people in China to have enough food to eat, and I want the people in South America to have clean drinking water. And I want the joy in my life to come from the people I interact with and the experiences I embrace – not the size of my 401K. Being independently wealthy might be a pipe dream, but I think I could be really happy independently poor.

Joke of the Day
The economy is so bad a picture is now only worth 200 words.

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