Musings amid upcoming recession

Many experts predict the coming of a recession quite soon.

Recession and depressed economy always remind me of President Jimmy Carter. He was a nice guy with good intentions. I wonder if he was the right man in the wrong times. He had a lot to deal with, including but not limited to a slumping economy, high gas prices, the anti-American revolution in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan as well as below-par American vehicles.

At least the American car industry has dusted itself off and is providing a stiff competition for the foreign automakers.

The present state of the economy is reminiscent of the late '70s, not to mention the turmoil in the Middle East.

But a bad economy may even have a silver lining. It may be a time to sit back and reflect on what's really important to us as a society.

People somehow go back to their core values during desperate times. When funds are not aplenty, it is not as easy to shove problems under the carpet and drown sorrow at the upcoming opening of the Americana at Brand.

As a society, we are somewhat like that person who becomes pompous and aloof during good times, but friendly and accessible during the times of financial meltdown.

I've come across some people recently who've canceled their cable. A small savings, but certainly a big opportunity to find time to visit a gallery, read a book or spend time with family and friends. In my case, canceling cable would mean less English soccer on the telly. And of course, I get to miss all the episodes of “In Treatment” on HBO. I will miss Laura and her manipulative ways of engaging her therapist into an unethical affair.

But on the bright side, it will help me meet my deadlines with the News-Press, and who knows, maybe I can attend a couple of City Council meetings to take notes on some local issues.

A bad economy may even be good for the environment. The price hike in fuel made small fuel-efficient Japanese cars more popular in the late '70s. At the time, American car companies didn't have an answer to the trend. Although I don't see very fuel-efficient cars coming back soon, this may be a good time to be kinder to the environment. A couple of less cylinders here and there should not negatively impact anyone's social status in the long run. The savings from empowering that big gas-guzzler can go back into the family savings account and even helping local charities.

We are a consumer society — you make it, we'll buy it.

I have a friend who works for city's Public Works Department, where they pick up the bulky items. I was amazed to hear the number of relatively new household products people dump on a daily basis. The logic may be simple, if a new version of the flat screen is out, out goes the old. Even if, “old” in this case means a few months old.

At times, we choose to ignore the impact of consumerism to our environment. Perhaps a slow economy may slow us down in toying with our natural surroundings further.

As much as the slump in the economy may affect our lifestyle, we should consider ourselves lucky living in this part of the world. If the plans to move into a bigger house have to be placed on hold, the switch from the 2006 Mercedes S-Class to the 2008 model has to wait, or the vacation to Spain has to be replaced with a trip to Cabo, life is still good here.

Some of my friends who are involved in charities across the globe, from Africa to India, and from Armenia to Guatemala, always give me a good perspective on our existence.

Life is like a meal. If you have the funds to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is no necessity to know the individual ingredients that make that Greek salad or Veal Scallopini. And there is no need to enjoy the process leading up to making the meal.

A wise man once said: “A man should never be too arrogant when he is doing well financially, and not too humble when in financial disarray.” Easier said than done, I know.

But as a society, economic prosperity has given us a certain sense of arrogance.

Perhaps times of humility are upon us.


?PATRICK AZADIAN is a writer and the creative director of a local marketing and graphic design studio living in Glendale. He may be reached at respond@ fromthemargins.net.

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