Now that Obama has introduced his economic dream team, and details of his plan are out there, I'm starting to wonder about the effects on both the macro and micro level. I'm still a little worried about all the rhetoric about the "lack of confidence" which posits a "spend baby spend" reaction. I personally think that is already the problem. Not to mention the fact that increased consumer spending was the Bush Administration response and we see how well that worked. Those $300/$600 checks sure turned things around, didn't they? I like Obama's two birds approach--create jobs in green industry. Love it. So what can we do at the micro level along those lines?
1) Spend wisely--buy socks for the homeless, and an extra can of food for the food banks. Not only do the donations go to services during a time of increased demand, but also those sales taxes go to replenish state coffers. The states are already having a hard time funding services such as education, DSHS, etc. Spending money on a new Wii game sure feels good, but there's no doubling effect.
2) Do not encumber your own money. If all your money is already promised to somebody else, then it's not really yours is it? The doubling effect here is that if loan requests are more conservative (including credit card balances), then the loan grants are more conservative, which increases confidence. See how that works?
3) Look ahead instead of back. So many of us get so caught up in what we've always done, (the major problem of the Big Three) that we can't see what we can offer in the future. Been thinking of volunteering at your kid's school? Now's the time. Not only will the recipients benefit from your expertise, you will gain skills necessary in case of a job switch. Now, I know highly skilled tech folks who have been laid off, so I'm not saying a post-millennial attitude will save everybody, but change is constant, and we as individuals should be ready for it.
4) Get healthy. The health care system is so broken and overburdened, the more we can do to stay out of it, the better. The flip side to this argument is that lots of healthy people pay premiums to support those who can't get off the french fries. That's how insurance works. But if we're one of those, it's not only for our personal health but also for the common good to do what we can.
And that's as good a conclusion as any. Prez-elect Obama said it's going to take work and sacrifice. I agree. But if we're strategic about what we do, we can not only help ourselves, but our society at large. This is the attitude we need to engender, because we've seen what the me-first attitude can do. And it ain't pretty.