Friday, October 10, 2008

The White Canary of our Times

Yesterday, in response to a comment I made about what a challenging job the next president was going to face with our economic disaster, a colleague of mine said that actually he thought the future next president was in a pretty good spot because it can't get much worse than it is can only get better.

At first, I thought there was probably some truth to that (and I genuinely hope he is prophetically correct). But last night we went to a volunteer recognition dinner where my daughter was being recognized for her outstanding volunteerism, and something was said there that made me re-think my colleague's hypothesis.

First, you need to know a little bit about the volunteer organization. It is CFR, Community Food Response. They are a local organization who three times a week goes around to various organizations such as restaurants, grocery stores, and school/work cafeteria's and collects food that would otherwise be discarded. They bring it back to their base of operations and repackage it into smaller containers and then open the doors at 5pm and hand it out to hungry families that have signed up for the program.

So, the president of the board said over the last month they've seen a dramatic increase in the need for their services so they are out stumping for more food providers to become part of the network. When he said this, in my minds eye - quite unconsciously - I had an image of a white canary. You know - the ones they sent into the coal mines as an early warning system for toxic gases! When I became aware of the vision in my head, I realized it was my subconscious telling me that this increase in needy people for CFR's food is an early warning sign of things to come.

I've been pondering that image ever since. Is there really no where to go but up? After much thinking and ruminating about it, my gut is telling me no. It could get MUCH MUCH worse.

I'm not an economics genius, but I do remember my Econ and Finance classes from my MBA quite well. What I remember most is how intricately intertwined EVERYTHING is to EVERYTHING when it comes to money. Although I've heard lots of talk about how the credit market seizing would cause unemployment - possibly mass unemployment - I haven't heard much about how our cities' and states' budgets are tied up in the same mess. Fewer loans being made means fewer people being able to afford home ownership. More houses sitting empty and in foreclosure means less revenue for our cities. Besides unemployment - we could see whole cities and states going bankrupt. If Iceland can teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, what makes us think it won't happen all over our country in our municipalities and states?

I am usually a very optimistic person, and indeed, if you read my blog much you know that I have subscribed to the hope mantra of the Obama campaign and do believe if he is elected that there is indeed hope! However, I also believe that things are much graver and more dire than we are being told. Obama gives me hope that the white canaries I see all around us will not wither and die, but instead will not only survive, but emerge stronger and healthier than before. Keep the hope alive!


No comments: