Good News, at Last
by Dick Kaser
I was so taken by one recent headline that I actually left the newspaper folded back so that I can see the front page every time I enter my office. There on the salmon-pink front page of the Financial Times (FT) from Sept. 16 are the bold words: “Recession likely over in US, says Bernanke.”
The FT story explains that it made this bold assertion based on the fact that consumer spending was up in August. OK, that was admittedly when Obama’s Cash for Clunkers program was riding high, so only sales in September and October could actually show if we have an economic recovery on our hands.
By the time you read this, you can tell me whether the FT was overzealous when it printed the story in September. Until then, it’s an assertion that gives me hope, so I will keep the paper folded back.
Where I live in Philadelphia, I certainly see the telltale signs of money coming back. Construction projects that were put on hold for months are suddenly resuming. The cacophony of jackhammers has become a melody in the crisp fall dawns (and how sweet the sound).
There were threats (again) of library closings in Philadelphia this autumn, but it’s starting to sound a little bit like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” After all, isn’t it true that libraries are so important to our society that the mere thought of closing them brings an otherwise silent population to its feet in support of new state and city budgets? I think I’m smelling a red herring as much as a recession in these alarms. But political ploy or not, the threatened demise of the Free Library of Philadelphia was highly exaggerated. And on that count alone, it’s all looking better and brighter in my part of the world right now.
So far, the 21st century has been defined by 9/11 and the Great Recession. We faced two catastrophes here: One was instantaneous and the other was a slowly unfolding incident, but both had no clear end in sight.
As we enter the century’s teen years (and I have to stop calling next year “oh-10”), we can predict one thing with confidence. As we go forward, we will take the lessons from the century’s grim beginning with us.
I speak only from the microcosm when I say this, but I find these turbulent years to be a good time to “re” things: rethink, re-evaluate, reprioritize, reposition, restructure, and reinvent.
What was it they used to say about artists? To do good work, you have to suffer. If the old adage also applies on a macro level, then let’s hope the suffering we have each endured will be put to good purpose overall.
Whether FT’s heralding of the recession’s end in September was premature is irrelevant. When these dark days come to their inevitable close, let’s see them not as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, but as the time when the weights we once carried were at last lifted.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.