Donate to JWR

In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2008 / 8 Kislev 5769

Silver lining in the downturn

By Linda Chavez

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article | It's time we 'fess up: Nobody has any idea how to get us out of the economic mess we're in. The Big Three automakers were on Capitol Hill again this week begging for a bailout. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson is considering direct federal intervention into the mortgage market by subsidizing new loans at very low interest rates. The stock market continues its roller coaster ride, down hundreds of points one day, up hundreds the next. Meanwhile, President-elect Obama waits on the sideline with a financial team made up mostly of old Clinton hands, well respected but with only the traditional federal spending stimulus solution in their bag of fixes. No wonder most Americans are holding onto their wallets.

I've long been an advocate that Americans should save more and spend less on stuff they don't need, especially when it's paid for on high-interest credit cards. And a Christmas shopping trip this week to my local mall suggests a lot of people are doing just that.

Spending on Black Friday was up — 7 percent, according to early estimates — but by the following Tuesday, the Northern Virginia mall I visited was nearly empty. In past years, I've found plenty of company, but this time the stores were nearly deserted. Clerks stood around talking to each other, and there seemed to be fewer salespeople even in the high-end stores. The guy playing the piano in Nordstrom looked lonely; the barista at Starbucks seemed bored with no customers waiting to pay several bucks for a caffeine concoction. Sure, there were big sales signs and lots of tinsel decorations, but it hardly seemed like the holiday season.

Conventional wisdom says this is a bad thing. America's economy, after all, runs on consumer spending. If people aren't buying cars and washing machines, or even new cell phones and Blu-ray players, workers will lose jobs; we'll suffer a longer recession; and life will be more difficult for everyone.

But what if this short-term medicine, bitter though it may be, actually makes people behave more responsibly? Maybe those missing shoppers will pay down their credit card or home equity debt if they spend less on gifts this year. Maybe parents will decide that putting away money for college is better than buying their children that Wii set they've been begging for.

Maybe kids will discover that the newest electronic gadget isn't half as much fun as the real thing. Maybe they'll even decide that throwing a real football in the park is better than watching some digitized Tony Romo complete a pass on their game screen. Who knows, a little financial belt-tightening could result in real-life belt-tightening as kids get off the couch and play off those extra pounds they've put on in the digital age.

I know elected officials — especially the new Democratic crew about to flood Washington — want Americans to get out there and spend. But we may be smarter than our politicians. It is not such a bad thing that everyone is looking to pare back their lifestyles. The path we were on was simply unsustainable in the long run.

Those bigger houses most of us couldn't really afford required more energy to heat and cool, and many of the lots they were built on were farther away from where we worked, requiring longer commutes and more gasoline. We had fewer hours to enjoy our homes because we worked and commuted more hours to pay for them. Worse, we spent less time with our kids and spouses. Do we really want to continue this vicious cycle, buying more but having less time to enjoy what we have?

I don't claim to know what will happen to the economy over the next year — and surely the news right now doesn't look promising. But I do think that if we take better control of our own lives and redirect our individual priorities, we'll be better off in the future. Who knows, scaled-back holiday spending could remind us what the season is all about. Giving of ourselves is more important than handing out store-bought goodies. Time spent with loved ones may be the best gift of all.

Every weekday publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Linda Chavez is President of the Center for Equal Opportunity. Her latest book is "Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

Linda Chavez Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate