Saturday, February 14, 2009

Are we really any poorer now? - part 2

In my previous append, I talked about how relationships and trust are an important part of the economy. These are things of value - economic assets just as real as factories and tools. Many of these relationships are formalized in our financial institutions, and their breakdown is directly related to the breakdown of these relationships in our economy.

Another vitally important asset in society is the attitude of people. Do people have confidence in their ability, and confidence that putting in some hard work will pay off? Or is a sense of despair and hopelessness prevalent? The general public attitude can have a tremendous impact on economic well being and growth. But attitude is something that must be built up over time. When it is damaged, as it seems to be now, it takes time to mend.

I don't want to leave this topic with the implication that our society and economy are falling apart. That would be falling into the trap of viewing all value in monetary terms. In reality many of the other components of our society are still doing quite well. I'm not aware of any data showing a significant decline in relationships between families and friends, or in the strength of churches or other civic organizations. Non-profit donations are down, and that will hurt many of them, but for the most part our non-profit infrastructure continues to do good work. Our health care and education sectors are holding together and most people still have access to them. Looking around where I live, I still have the impression that our communities are still strong and providing many of the non-monetary benefits that they were doing last time this year. If anything, for many people the hope and trust in government has increased considerably since last year. Many things of value in our society have been little impacted by the current economic slowdown.

1 comment:

pastfirst said...

Our self-confidence is at rock bottom which doesn't help matters.
As soon as our financial situation declines, so does our self esteem.
As a result, it's all downhill mentally, emotionally and financially.