A Lack of Faith in the Future = Fear

It’s important to try and understand what’s really driving the acerbic attitude in our country. I explained in the last blog that the reason companies are sitting on piles of cash and not hiring is that they are essentially afraid. A lack of certainty and confidence both are fear. So, we know the upper crust has fear or they would be spending money. “Scared to spend” is what USAToday called it in an article on July 28, 2010.

The captains of industry have been cost cutting to increase revenues and profits, demanding increased productivity, but refusing to hire. As Robert Samuelson said in Newsweek magazine dated August 2, “Lowering the head count is the quickest way to restore profits and, from there, a company’s stock price.” The need to satisfy investors is greater than the societal need to put more people back to work and increase confidence, at least according to the heads of companies. It’s funny then that the people who have the resources to bring us of the recession, generate confidence, and also jump start the economy to bring in more taxes and help reduce the deficit are the ones who are fearful and wanting the government to help.

As a result of these fears of the rich, the rest become more afraid, as measured by the consumer confidence numbers. According to USAToday on July 28, the consumer confidence index for July declined to its lowest level since February. The stock market rebounds and profits increase for companies, but consumer confidence goes down. Why? Because fear is contagious. The fear that keeps companies from hiring in spite of having plenty of cash translates into lower confidence in the population, which sees that jobs are scarce and that it’s hard to get work and promotions.

Then, we come upon a story demonstrating that long term faith in our basic safety net is also dwindling. According to USAToday on July 20, “Faith in Social Security [is] Tanking.” A majority of retirees think their benefits will be cut. Six in ten non-retirees polled believe Social Security won’t be able to pay their benefits when they do retire. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-07-20-1Asocialsecurity20_ST_N.htm

Are the folks in the land of the free and the home of the brave really so scared about the future? What happened to the spirit of Americans during the Great Depression and World War II? Why are we SO scared of each other? Racing out to buy guns to protect ourselves against - ourselves - our fellow citizens. Scared to death of a deficit way in the future, when we have big problems right now. Now, people are afraid that the government (which is made up of fellow citizens, so it’s really us, not them) won’t be able to keep a promise, one that Franklin Roosevelt brought to the country that has been one of our most successful programs. People pay into the fund, but it also is clearly all of us taking care of the older generation; having old people in poor houses did not seem like the honorable way to run a society.

Why aren’t we working together to craft collective resolutions, instead of just saying no to every idea that comes along and refusing to do our fare share? This angst against paying taxes at all costs in spite of the fix we’re in is downright selfish, in my view.

The point is that we have become a fearful nation. This is not the home of the brave right now. We have become a bunch of scaredy cats and whiners, always focused on what’s in it for me, at the expense of the sick, the poor, the unemployed, and also the environment.

How to get out of this mess? Well, the fear we have is all in our minds. So, why don’t we let go of our fears and phobias about the future, roll up our sleeves, and start acting like we’re all in this together?

Originally posted on Tumblr