Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Economy

No question that the country is slogging through a nasty swamp, in re the economy. Million jobs lost in the last couple of months, housing sales, car sales, big ticket item sales in general in the toilet, and nobody trusts their banker farther than they can throw him. 

I also find it sad that the Republicans seem to think that their mantra "Tax cuts, tax cuts!" is going to work any better than it has. Explain how cutting taxes helps a guy who just lost his job and has no income. Or whose house is in foreclosure along with that job loss. Last time I looked, in order to make rabbit stew, first you have to catch a rabbit.

In the long run, you say? Sure. In the long run, we are all dead. 

But: As dire as things are, everybody hasn't lost his or her job. The country might be mired up to its ass, but it can still move.

Last night, my wife and I went out for dinner. We had a coupon, courtesy of a writing gig I did a few months back, for McCormick's, a local fish house, twenty bucks off, and worth using when it covers the price of an entree. 

Normally, we don't go out on Saturday night, we prefer the quiet of mid-week, so it has been a while since we've done that.

Traffic was heavy. Everybody and her date was on the road. The restaurant, when we got there, was packed, and even though we had a reservation, we had to wait a few minutes for a table. We were booked at six-thirty p.m., and when we left, an hour or so later, there were fifteen people stacked by the front door waiting for tables and the tables were all full.

I was happy to see it. I halfway expected a ghost town, and seeing that everybody wasn't cowering in their about-to-be-repossessed-houses was, in a small way, heartening.

This is not to make light of the plights of the millions who are in dire trouble financially. Any of us could get pink-slipped tomorrow and join that group, and it is cause for concern. More than a third of my retirement fund is just ... gone, and while I hadn't planned on retiring, that option is not what it was. (If I want to retire, I'll need to work a little longer. Until I'm, oh, say, ninety-seven or so ...) But if people can't buy a new house or a new car or dishwasher because they are tightening their belts, at least those who were in that restaurant last night seemed to be enjoying their food and themselves. Somebody had a birthday and they sang, and the ages of the patrons ranged from old to young. 

Hope is still alive in some quarters. Life is in the moment, not the past, nor the future. Seize it.

By the by, I had the lobster ravioli with Gulf shrimp, in a white sauce, with dill and baby spinach. Outstanding dish, delicious -- and made ever so much better because it was free. If you get to McCormick's, try it.


J.D. Ray said...

Glad to hear your report from the field, as Jen and I are gambling basically everything we can scratch up on expanding our restaurant. We look around Portland and see other, similar businesses booming, and think we can do at least as well.

By the by, McCormack & Schmick's, in various incarnations, are found all over the country:

J.D. Ray said...

Blast... No auto-link...

McCormack & Schmick's Location Map

Steve Perry said...

How about a link and location of your place, J.D.?

Wim Demeere said...

I'm sick and tired of the fear mongering and doom and gloom in the media. Now I can't speak about the situation in the US but in my neck of the woods, the crisis is indeed hitting hard. And there's worse to come. But most people still have their jobs and are making money.

We have an automatic wages index, which means everybody got a 4% increase last month. Not little old self-employed me, but everybody who has an employer.

To boot, just today the stats came out: last year, 30% more people went to working part-time or 3/4.

And one of my students who organizes the biggest holiday fair in the country says attendance has never been better. And people are buying like crazy.

I'm not saying there isn't a problem. But we haven't been hit by a meteorite yet, all life and therefor hope isn't doomed just yet.

William Adams said...

The thing is, w/ automation, computers &c., there should be less work to be done --- so the question is how should society deal w/ that?

People working part time wouldn't be so bad if it didn't cut them out of health care and other necessary benefits --- perhaps we need to revisit one response to the Great Depression and have a reduction in the hours worked per week to qualify for full-time?

Sure, it'd be expensive for businesses, but it'd distribute the pain, encourage more widespread employment (or lots of overtime) and get more people paying for benefits (since some part-timers now would make the cut to get them).