An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
I'm not an economist, but I play one on the internet
So I'm reading about the world record breaking opening of the new Batman movie. And it got me to thinking about the doom and gloom we keep hearing about our nation's economy. So how is it that we are given the impression that we are on the verge of a new depression and yet we are able to give Hollywood not one, but TWO historic box office takings this weekend? (The film "Mamma Mia" - an ABBA musical, believe it or not - had the biggest opening ever for a musical!) In fact, as I hear it, getting a ticket to Batman was akin to being able to buy a Cabbage Patch Kid on Christmas eve in 1984.
I reckon a number of things could be at play here:
1) The economy is NOT as bad as some would have us believe.
2) We are stupid enough to go see Batman rather than eat.
If I had to guess, I'd say a little of both. You'd think that if the economy really was taking a terrible dive that one of the first industries to really feel the pinch BEFORE individual families would be entertainment and services (i.e. restaurants and anything else that normal poor folk do for themselves...like cook). Now, I realize this all comes around in circle to hit families (after all families own restaurants and Brad and Angelina et. al. are a family too) but, after this weekends box office numbers I'm a little surprised.
How much of our fiscal woes are due to our overly high expectations? I actually saw a report on the local news station in which a family was being paraded about as a pity story because they were forced to give up their cable TV in order to pay for gas. Wow...pity? Hmmm, we missed out on this: Giving up TV is something our family did over a year ago...but I'm not sure the local news would care to have known then, especially since we weren't quite so close to an election.
Don't get me wrong...we at St. Brigid Farm are feeling the pinch, especially at the gas pumps and at the Feed Store (thank you Bio-Fuels). And losing Firefly was a real wrench thrown into our plans as well. But we are making it still, even - gasp - on one income. That latter fact will tend to eliminate any hope for sympathy, but who's looking for sympathy?
Because I will say that we have probably never been better in control of our budget as we have been in the last couple of months. So, to that degree we are very thankful. I find it is far better to KNOW you don't have "blow" money than to be unsure and assume you do. I think that one of the keys to "Financial Peace" (hat tip to Dave Ramsey) is simply being knowledgeable about what money you have and what money you spend. Being debt free is something everyone should be actively pursuing and in my mind THAT is the very pinnacle of financial peace. After all, how many time do we hear about famous NBA stars (or whoever) that end up bankrupt? How does one manage that with multi-million dollar salaries? Well, just like poor people do it - usually - simply by living beyond your means. So quantity of said money has very little to do with financial peace.
A good president, if he or she REALLY wanted to make a difference in the nation's economy would exhort everyone to get better educated on finances. Working through a course of "Financial Peace University" would be a great start for everyone including our government! Doing so would go a very long way to doing far more that the false appearance of healthy economy (which is, in my opinion, exactly what we have had now for a long time now), but rather a truly healthy one in which one can be ridiculously wealthy or just scraping by (like us) and still have financial peace.
However, if we are in need of massive mortgage bailouts and yet we still give a single Hollywood film hundreds of millions of dollars in a couple of days...well...I'd say something is wrong with the picture being painted.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:39 PM [+] +++
Yeah, one "visible" income and one "invisible" income. Those silly demographic stats don't show the real picture. How much "income" is Sue contributing, by raising milk goats, eggs, chickens-in-a-pot, and produce? And giving the family the health benefits of eating practically-organic food (intangible medical expenses, but it's got to be something)? Oh, and how much is she saving you over the next 16 years, by giving the kids a good education? Sounds like a heck of a lot of private school tuition, not to mention college scholarships.
Boo-hoo...give up cable? Gosh, what's the world coming too. I think you've hit on it. We'll know things are really in trouble when people give up their cell phones and other "essential" portable electronic devices and, more importantly, drop some pounds. I mean, I heard some newstalker going on about people choosing between eating and fuel...come on. Really? Given the number of comfortably rotund people I see wallowing around town, I don't think anyone is missing any meals - at least not yet, anyway, and those that are being crimped it probably means skipping their morning latte or dinner at McDonalds instead of Olive Garden. I think most of us in this country are guilty to some degree or another of confusing wants and needs. If things really, really get tight, we may be forced to resolve that confusion.
Hi Mike, Rotundity? Yeah, there's probably a lot of McDonald's to blame. But if you cruise the aisle at any grocery store, you'll find the unhealthy stuff costs less than the healthier, fresher stuff around the edges of the store. Is a low-income mom going to buy a $2-$3 head of lettuce, and a $5 pack of chicken breasts, or is she going to buy three cans of ravioli or Campbell's soup? Or maybe several packs of off-brand Top Ramen, on loss leader?
No, I haven't given up cable, but that's only because it's functionally free with my internet service. I almost never watch it. And as much as we'd like to vilify cell phones, the business world operates on the assumption that almost everybody has one, and this of course trickles down to us peons. Of course, lots of people have given up land lines entirely, so the visibility of cell phones might be a bit deceiving.
Liz you hit on a good point that the farm (and naturally the mrs) does pay off. Besides the the unseen benefits, we rake in about 140 a month in egg sales which ALMOST pays all our animal expenses. Factor in the cheese and milk and we are more than breaking even. PLUS...I am anxiously watching the garden grow...rooting (pun intended) for the beans to climb and climb! I expect the garden will significantly decrease our money dedicated for food come September...maybe even sooner.
Mike...from my own life I know you are right. I am totally confused between wants and needs. I expect I am a typical American. I did not give up my cable (satellite actually) because I felt holy and needed to protect our home's virtue (heck I bring enough vice myself as it is)...rather it was just taking too big a chunk out of the budget. Its loss, however, did have some fringe benefits.
Anyway, I think its a fair question for us to ask ourselves and our country when we begin to complain about the economy: what ARE we spending our money on? If the reports are true about how bad things are (and I have some doubts), then there is no reason for multiple movies to be setting records at the box office.